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TEN ONE-ACT PLAYS 

By 

ALICE QERSTENBERQ 



BRENTANO'S, Publishers, NEW YORK 



VICTORIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
TORONTO, ONTARIO 




SOURCE: 



- 



TEN ONE-ACT PLAYS 



TEN ONE-ACT 
PLAYS 



By 

ALICE GERSTENBERG 




LONGMANS, GREEN & CO. 

55 FIFTH AVENUE NEW YORK, N. Y. 
For Permission to Produce Apply to Above 






COPYRIGHTED, 1921, BY 
BRENTANO'S 

All rights reserved. 



First Printing, August, 1921 

Second Printing, October, 1922 

Third Printing, April, 1925 

Fourth Printing, May, 1928 

Fifth Printing, March, 1930 

These Plays are fully protected by copyright and may be 
used only with permission of and payment of royalty to 
Norman Lee Swartout, 55 Fifth Ave., New York, N. Y., or 
Alice Gerstenberg, 1120 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois. 



5331 \ 

29-11-33 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



To MY FATHER 

IN ADMIRATION OF 

HIS GREAT INTEGRITY 

AND TENDERNESS 



CONTENTS 

HE SAID AND SHE SAID 1 

OVERTONES ..... 35 

THE UNSEEN ....... . . 67 

THE BUFFER , 95 

ATTUNED 135 

THE POT BOILER 143 

HEARTS 187 

BEYOND . 

FOURTEEN 

THE IXLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE . 243 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

A ONE-ACT PLAY 



CHARACTERS 

DIANA CHESBROUGH, a society girl 
ENID HALDEMAN, her friend 
FELIX HALDEMAN, her husband 
MRS. CYRUS PACKARD, their friend 

SCENE 

Living-room at the Haldemans, before dinner. 
COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY ALICE GERSTENBERO 

First production at the Community Theatre of Holly- 
wood, California, under direction of Neely Dickson. Later 
at the Anna Morgan Studios, Chicago, etc. 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

SCENE: Living-room at the Haldemans. 
covered Enid setting the room to rights. Enter in 
hat and coat and jingling a bunch of house keys 
Felix Haldeman. He kisses Enid affectionately as 
if it were a daily habit, and then tosses down the 
evening paper. 

FELIX 
Hello, dear. 

ENID 

Felix, I asked Diana and Mrs. Packard over for 
dinner. You'd better hurry and wash up a bit. 

FELIX 
What ? Am I to be the only man again? 

ENID 

Can't help it, darling. Mr. Packard's in Wash- 
ington and all of Diana's suitors are in the trenches. 

FELIX 

There must be some old greybeard left some- 
where to invite for Diana. 

ENID 

Oh, there are a few left-overs floating around 
but Diana doesn't like them. If she can't get the 
best male company she prefers female. 
[3 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 

Diana's a peach! She should have married one 
of the boys before they all went over. Poor Aubrey 
Laurence was madly in love with her. 

ENID 

Hurry up, there's soot on your cheek. [She tapt 
it affectionately.'] 

FELIX 

All right, if I have to dine with three women I'd 
better look my best. 

ENID 

[Admiringly] Yes, my dear Cock of the Walk. 

FELIX 

There're the evening papers. We gained three 
miles again. [Exit down left.] 

ENID 

[Is about to glance at the paper but is inter- 
rupted by the breezy entrance of Mrs. Packard.] 

MRS. PACKARD 
My dear, your maid told me to come right in. 

ENID 

Oh, Mrs. Packard, I'm so glad you could come 
on such short notice. 

MRS. PACKARD 

I jumped at the invitation. It's so lonesome 
with John away. How lucky you are to have your 
husband at home. 

[4 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID- 

ENID 

Thanks to his business, the Government prefers 
him here. Take off your things. 

MRS. PACKARD 

I'm a little early but I took advantage of the 
chance to ride this way in Mrs. Morgan's car. Do 
you like Mrs. Morgan? 

ENID 
Why, yes, don't you ? 

MRS. PACKARD 
I don't think you ought to like her. 

ENID 
Why not? 

MRS. PACKARD 
She has a long, bad tongue. 

ENID 
Talks about people 

MRS. PACKARD 

[Raises her eye-brows.'] Does she? You ought 
to hear her but then you ought not to hear her. 

ENID 
About me ? 

MRS. PACKARD 

Now, there, my dear, I have come for a jolly 
little dinner-party and I'm not going to gossip. 

[5] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

ENID 

Still, if she said anything against me, I ought 
to protect myself 

MRS. PACKARD 

That's just it, that's what I thought and 
when she said Oh, no, why should I tell you 

ENID 
Why shouldn't you tell me? 

MRS. PACKARD 

Yes, why shouldn't I? After all, I'm one of 
your best friends and you ought to know 

ENID 
Certainly, I ought to know 

MRS. PACKARD 
But you may never forgive me 

ENID 
Not forgive you for protecting me? 

MRS. PACKARD 

That's true, you must protect yourself. It is 
my duty to tell you. 

ENID 
What is it? You have me quite scared. 

MRS. PACKARD 

If she tells me a thing like that, of course, she 
will tell everyone else. By this time, no doubt, it's 
all over town. 

[6] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

ENID 
How dreadful what have I done 

MRS. PACKARD 

It isn't what you've done it's about Diana 
Chesbrough. 

ENID 
She's coming to-night. 

MRS. PACKARD 
Is she? Your invitation? 

ENID 
Why, yes, 

MRS. PACKARD 
Are you sure? 

ENID 
[A bit impatiently.'] Of course, I'm sure. 

MRS. PACKARD 

Well [She raises her shoulders and eye* 
brows.'] 

ENID 

But in what way can gossip couple my name with 
Diana's? She is one of my best friends. 

MRS. PACKARD 
Oh, is she? 

ENID 
[Stoutly~] I am quite sure she is. 

MRS. PACKARD 
Maybe she is still, they wonder why Diana 

[7] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

didn't marry one of the boys before they went off 
to war. 

ENID 

Why should she have 

MRS. PACKARD 

Yes, why should she have really still anyone 
as attractive as Diana she had plenty of chances, 
didn't she? 

ENID 
Oh, yes. 

MRS. PACKARD 

That's what they say. All nice men, too, and 
one or two real catches don't you think it's 
strange Diana didn't marry one of them ? 

ENID 
Yes, I do think it's strange. 

MRS. PACKARD 

\Pouncmgly\ There! Of course you do! I 
said it! But why do you think she didn't? 

ENID 
I don't know. 

MRS. PACKARD 
What does she say? 

ENID 
I think she 

MRS. PACKARD 

Exactly! It's just what everyone is saying. 
And everybody feels so sorry for you. 

[ 8 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

ENID. 
Sorry for me? 

MRS. PACKARD 
My dear, you get all the sympathy. 

ENID. 
What for? 

MRS. PACKARID 
Is it possible you have been so blind? 

ENID. 
Blind, I? 

MRS. PACKARD 
You're with each other a great deal aren't you? 

ENID. 
Yes, 

MRS. PACKARD 
And your husband 

ENID. 
Ah, that's what you mean 

MRS. PACKARD 
Oh, my poor dear, that's what they say 

ENID. 
Just what do they say? 

MRS. PACKARD 

That she and oh, no, my dear, of course I 
don't believe it, but 

ENID. 

[Worried] But just in exact words what do they 
say 

[9] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

MRS. PACKARD 
Hasn't he ever admired her in your presence 

ENID. 

Yes 

MRS. PACKARD 
What does lie say 

ENID 

Oh, that she's a peach and popular and all the 
men like her and many of them want to marry her 
and 

MRS. PACKARD 

There you are! That's just it! They said so 
and Mrs. Morgan told me that Diana refused the 
other men because well she said because 

[Sees Diana entering, changes subject quickly."] 
Oh, Diana, you dear, sweet thing, good evening, 

DIANA 

[Enters bach centre, gay, happy, pretty, un- 
consciously -friendly.] 

Hello, Mrs. Packard. Hello, Enid, old top. 

[Kisses EnidJ] 

Pm early, because I came straight up from town 
after dressing at the club. Canteen work all day. 
How's everybody? 

ENID. 
I've been nursing at the hospital all afternoon. 

DIANA 

Isn't Enid a trump, doing the home nursing and 

[ 10 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

releasing someone else to get the glory over there? 
I'd have gone over there myself 

MRS. PACKARD 
[Pouncingly~\ Why didn't you? 

DIANA 

Against the law. I have relatives in the 
trenches. Oh, I'd love the romance of being there. 
Enid, get the letter from your brother, won't you, 
and read it to Mrs. Packard? He gives such un- 
usually interesting descriptions 

ENID. 

Yes, it's most interesting. Excuse me a 
moment, it's in my desk upstairs. 
{Exit Enid back centre.] 

MRS. PACKARD 

[ With a backward glance to see if Enid is out of 
hearing'] My dear Miss Chesbrough, pardon me 
for seeming to presume, but I am only trying to 
save you. Are you aware of what people are say- 
ing about you? 

DIANA 

Saying about me? 

MRS. PACKARD 
Of course they wouldn't say it to you 

DIANA 

What wouldn't they say? 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

MRS. PACKARD 

It is so much easier to flatter than to say dis- 
agreeable things 

DIANA 

People are saying disagreeable things about me? 

MRS. PACKARD 
You haven't heard? 

DIANA 

No, but I should certainly like to know 

MRS. PACKARD 

Of course you would ; any young girl like you 
but my dear, do you really think you should come 
to this house 

DIANA 

Come to this house? Why, Enid and I went to 
school together, she is one of my oldest and best 
friends 



MRS. PACKARD 
Best dfd you say? 

DIANA 

You doubt it? 

MRS. PACKARD 
After what she said? 

DIANA 

She said something to make you doubt her 
friendship to me surely you are mistaken 

[ 12 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

MRS. PACKARD 

My dear girl, I have eyes and ears I can see 
and hear 

DIANA 
What did Enid say? 

MRS. PACKARD 

Sihe said she wished you had married one of the 
boys before they went to war 

DIANA 

Oh, that 

MRS. PACKARD 

You admit it ! And still you come here that is 
what people say 

DIANA 

What do I admit? I don't follow your reason- 
ing I don't see 

MRS. PACKARD 
Of course you don't see love is always blind 

DIANA 

Love ! We haven't said a word about love 

MRS. PACKARD 

Of course not, it is a delicate word to use and in 
this matter it is well, the world does not think it 
becoming 

DIANA 

[Indignantly] Mrs. Packard I do not under- 
stand your innuendos tell me the plain facts 

113] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

what are people saying and what has love got to 
do with it? 

MRS. PACKARD 
Mr. Haldeman. 

DIANA 

[Laughs'] Felix? 

MRS. PACKARD 
And you! 

DIANA 
I? 

MRS. PACKARD 
They couple your names together. 

DIANA 

[Furiously] They say that Felix and I it is a 
lie 

MRS. PACKARD 

It doesn't make any difference if it Is a lie the 
point is what people say 

DIANA 

' The people who say such things have rotten little 
minds that haven't enough brains to entertain 
themselves 

MRS. PACKARD 
[Shocked] My dear Miss Chesbrough 

DIANA 

And you're just the same repeating such 
slander 

[ 14 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID- 

MRS. PACKARD 
[Angrily] You insinuate that I am one of the 

DIANA 

I do. 

MRS. PACKARD 
You have insulted me ! 

DIANA 

Not more than you have insulted me! 

MRS. PACKARD 

[Furiously'} Miss Chesbrough, you will suffer for 
this! I tell you something in all friendliness of 
spirit to protect you from the slanders of the 
world and then you reward me by 

DIANA 

You listen to idle tongues and then you come 
and rob me of my happiness by putting poison 
into my mind 

MRS. PACKARD 

I was telling you the truth, but people do not 
thank you for telling tihem the truth 

DIANA 

7 am the one who knows what the truth is! I 
know that Enid and I are friends and that Enid 
and Felix and I are friends and that is all. Felix 
adores Enid, he would never care for any other 
woman 

MRS. PACKARD 

Oh, wouldn't he? Does the world know more 
than Mrs. Haldeman herself? It does not! Just 

[ 15 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

a few moments ago in this very room she told me 
herself that she wished you had married because 
she knows that Felix is in love with you she pre- 
tends to be your friend but in her heart she hates 
you 

DIANA 

It's not true! 

MRS. PACKARD 

It is not pleasant to argue with you, Miss Ches- 
brough. I shall find my hostess and make my 
excuses and not stay to dinner 

[Exit up centre J] 

DIANA 

[Goes as if to -follow her.] 

If I have been too utterly rude, I humbly apolo- 
gize but I cannot allow you to circulate such out- 
rageous 

FELIX 

[Enters from down left.] 

Hello, Diana, when did you get here? Want to 
help me mix the cocktails ? 

[Goes to side table and begins to mix drinks.] 

DIANA 

Felix, a terrible thing has happened they talk 
about us ! 

FEUX 
Who is they and who is us? 

DIANA 

People are talking about you and me 

[16 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 

[Mixing cocktail^ Why, what have we done. Do 
you like a drop of orange bitters ? 

DIANA 

You're not taking it seriously. 

FELIX 
But what is there 

DIANA 

That's just it what is there if there really 
were something [She watches him anxiously] It's 
most embarrassing for me I don't know how to 
say it to you 

FELIX 

My dear Diana, you can say anything to me 
haven't I proved myself a real friend 

DIANA 

But if what they say is really true 

FELIX 
Don't you know whether it's true or not 

DIANA 

I thought I did but after she said it I began 
to wonder 

FELIX 
Wonder what? 

DIANA 

[Hesitates] Oh 

[ 17 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 
Out with it! 

DIANA 
You know I love Enid 

FELIX 
Why, you've grown up together 

DIANA 

I wouldn't hurt her for worlds 

FELIX 
No, you trump ! 

DIANA 

So do you love her more than any one else 
don't you? 

FELIX 
Of course but 

DIANA 

[Horrified] Don't say but 

FELIX 
But why 

DIANA 

Why did you say "but" 

FELIX 

Did I say "but"? I don't know, what was I 
saying 

DIANA 

You said of course BUT 

[ 18 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 
I don't remember you have me all confused 

DIANA 

You don't think I'm in love with you, do you? 

FELIX 
Great Scott, do they say you are in love with me? 

DIANA 

You never have thought have you 

FELIX 
I'm not so conceited to think I could 

DIANA 

Ah, then but 

FELIX 
Well, now, what, but 

DIANA 

Are you in love with me? 

FELIX 
[Shouts'] No! 

DIANA 

Thank goodness ! But 

FELIX 
What 

DIANA 

That's what they say 

FELIX 

That I am in love with you 
[19] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

DIANA 

And that I am in love with you 

FELIX 
And 

DIANA 

Exactly ! 

FELIX 
Holy smokes ! 

DIANA 

But it's not true ! 

FELIX 
[Shouts'] No! 

DIANA 

But they say it's true ! 

FELIX 
And what they say 

DIANA 

Amounts to the same thing 

FELIX 
What can we do? 

DIANA 

That's what I'm asking you=> 

FELIX 
Go straight to Enid 

DIANA 

But Enid believes it ! 

[ 20 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 
Nonsense ! 

DIANA 

She said so 

FELIX 
What "she" said so? 

DIANA 
Mrs. Packard said they all say it. 

FELIX 
How do they know? 

DIANA 

They don't, but they think they do so it amounts 
to the same thing. 

FELIX 
But Enid can't believe it 

DIANA 

But there's proof that she does believe it 

FELIX 
It's too absurd 

DIANA 

Mrs. Packard said that Enid said that you said 
you were in love with me or something like that 
and that Enid hates me 

FELIX 
That's not true, I know she likes you 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

DIANA 
But Mrs. Packard wouldn't dare say anything 

FELIX 
She said Enid hates you 

DIANA 

Perhaps Enid does perhaps she is jealous over 
nothing at all perhaps she has been imagining 
things perhaps she does hate me perhaps she 
too has been saying things making it seem as if 

[She stops as Enid enters followed by Mrs. 
Packard centre J] 

ENID 

Diana, Mrs. Packard says you insulted her and 
that she feels she cannot stay for dinner 

DIANA 

I apologized to Mrs. Packard but she would not 
accept my 

MRS. PACKARD 
Ah, you do admit you insulted me 

DIANA 

Only after you insulted me! 

MRS. PACKARD 

You hear, Mrs. Haldeman? It is just as I said, 
she accused me of insulting her when I was trying 
only to be kind and give her a little motherly 
advice 

DIANA 

Mrs. Packard took it upon herself to repeat 
[ 22 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

some things that people are saying things that 
are manifestly untrue 

ENID 

Whether they are true or not it is highly un- 
pleasant for me to have this altercation in my 
house 

DIANA 

I can tell by your voice that you are willing to 
believe that woman 

MRS. PACKARD 

Mrs. Haldeman, I resent being called that 
woman 

DIANA 

I don't care what you resent , you've come in 
and spoilt a beautiful friendship I've had all my 
life and I don't care what I call you 

ENID 
But in my house my guests 

DIANA 

Don't worry I shall not be your guest another 
moment I'm going [Starts']. 

ENID 
No, Diana, I can't let you leave in anger. 

DIANA 

But I do I leave with my heart black against 
you for listening to what she said 

MRS. PACKARD 
What did I say? 

[23 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID- 

DIANA 

You said that Felix and I were in love with each 
other and you insinuated that 

MRS. PACKARD 
I never said such a thing in all my life ! 

DIANA 

Mrs. Packard! Why just a few moments ago 
in this very room you 

MRS. PACKARD 
I never 'said such a thing in all my life ! 

DIANA 

Can you look me straight in the eyes and tell me 
you never said it? 

MRS. PACKARD 
I never said it ! never, never, never! 

DIANA 

Didn't you tell me that you have eyes and ears 
and that you can see and hear and that every- 
body was saying 

MRS. PACKARD 
But what everybody else says isn't what I say ! 

DIANA 

Didn't you tell me that Felix was in love with 
me 

MRS. PACKARD 

I didn't know that ! She told me that ! 
[Turns to Enid.'] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

ENID 
I never told you that ! 

MRS. PACKARD 

Why, my dear, you did! In this very room, a 
few moments ago 

ENID 

I never said such a thing in all my life and 
how you can imagine 

MRS. PACKARD 

I imagine nothing ! I know what I see and what 
I hear and you certainly told me that you ought 
to know all I had heard so you could protect your- 
self. So I told you in a friendly way, trying to be 
a help and there we are. 

DIANA 

[Bitterly] Yes, where are we? 

MRS. PACKARD 
You have no one to blame but yourself. 

DIANA 

We have no one to blame but you 

ENID 

Mrs. Packard, I didn't know I had to protect 
myself until you insinuated 

MRS. PACKARD 

Why, it was you yourself who said that he 
wanted to marry her 

[25 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

ENID 

I said nothing of the sort. I said that he said 

[All women turn simultaneously upon Felix who 

up to this time has refrained from meddling in the 

quarrel. He is confused by this sudden demand 

upon him and answers foolishly.^ 

FELIX 
I don't know what you're talking about. 

MRS. PACKARD 

Didn't you say to your wife that you wanted to 
marry Miss Chesbrough and didn't 

FELIX 

I never said such a thing in all my life and who- 
ever said it got it out of whole cloth ! 

MRS. PACKARD 
He denies it of course. 

DIANA 

He has to deny it. To admit it would be false. 

MRS. PACKARD 

Whether it was true or false he would have to 
deny it. 

DIANA 

Why would he have to deny it? 

MRS. PACKARD 

Because the ethics of a gentleman would make 
him deny it in order to protect you 

DIANA 

[Raging] So it doesn't matter whether it is true 
[ 26 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

or not nothing we can say or do can wipe out the 
miserable thoughts in your mind 

MRS. PACKARD 

Not my mind! Everybody's mind! I have 
nothing to do with it ! 

DIANA 

Enid, can't you stand up and defend us ? 

MRS. PACKARD 
Ah, you admit you must be defended. 

DIANA 

The whole world has to be defended against 
women like you! If you were in my house Pd 
show you the door. Enid, show her the door and 
prove that you trust Felix and me, that you know 
there isn't and never has been anything between us 
but the most innocent friendship you don't move, 
you don't trust me 

ENID 

I have always trusted you I never had the 
slightest suspicion but perhaps I have been 
blind perhaps the world has been able to see bet- 
ter from the distance and understand 

FELIX 

Are you going to take the world's word against 
ours ? Are you going to believe a silly gossip and 
let one minute of slander outweigh the love and 
loyalty you've had from Diana and me for a life- 
time 

[ 27 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

MRS. PACKARD 
Why don't you tell your wife you love her? 

FELIX 

I love my wife but I do not see any reason to 
make a public statement of it. I stated that pub- 
licly when I married her. She knows I love her 
don't you 

ENID 
Do I? 

DIANA 
He adores you 

FELIX 
Don't you know it 

ENID 
But Diana is pretty and 

DIANA 

Felix ! I leave this house forever ! Thanks to 
you, Mrs. Packard, I have lost two friends who 
meant more to me than even the world's opinion. 
I shall never see either of you again ! 

FELIX 

Diana, come back ! It is too outrageous to allow 
such contemptible gossip to break your friendship 
with Enid. 

MRS. PACKARD 
You see he does not want her to go 

DIANA 

It would never be the same between Enid and me 
again. 

[28] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

FELIX 

I do not want her to go because I do not want to 
have an evil tongue like yours triumphant ! If you 
had come into our home and stolen our silver you 
would be less a thief than you are now. New silver 
can be bought but tarnished friendship can never 
be bright again. You caused this by your 
malicious remarks about my regard for Miss 
Chesbrough. 

MRS. PACKARD 
I didn't say it. 

FELIX 
Pardon me, you did ! 

MRS. PACKARD 
I didn't say it, she did. 
[Turning to Enid.~\ 

ENID 
I didn't. 

MRS. PACKARD 
You did. 

ENID 
I didn't! 

DIANA 

What does it matter now how it happened ! It's 
done ! done ! Our friendship is over but I won't go 
without leaving my memory here white and clean 
I don't care what the world believes but I want 
Enid to know I've never had a thought against 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

her and so I'm going to tell the truth even 
though I would rather have died than tell this 
before 

MRS. PACKARD 
Ah, now we will hear something 

FELIX 
Diana, be careful you are under no obligations 

ENID 

[To Felix] So you know what she is going to 
say ? 

DIANA 

No, he doesn't know. It is my secret. No one 
else has known. There is only one man I love or 
ever have loved and he's over there. 

MRS. PACKARD 
She's making it up, a likely story 

DIANA 

I'm not making it up ! If you don't believe me 
I'll have to tell you his name 

FELIX 

No, no, Diana, it is not fair to demand that of 
you 

DIANA 

They will not believe me but I'll do anything 
for Enid she'll have to know. It is Aubrey 
Laurence. 

MRS. PACKARD 

Aubrey Laurence! He wanted to marry you 
[30 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID- 

ENID 
It's true he did but Diana wouldn't 

MRS. PACKARD 
Why wouldn't you? 

DIANA 
Because I did. 

FELIX and ENID 
You married him ? 

DIANA 

[Takes wedding-ring from chain about her 
neck.] 

Yes! I married him, the last day before he 
sailed 

MRS. PACKARD 
But your family didn't like him 

DIANA 

That's why I didn't tell them, but you can go 
now and tell them yourself, Mrs. Packard. 

FELIX 
Aubrey Laurence ! Did you really, Diana ? 

MRS. PACKARD 
He hasn't any money. 

FELIX 

But he's straight to the core ! I'm awfully glad 
Diana ! 

ENID 
So am I, Diana ! Forgive me ! 

[31 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

DIANA 

There's the door, Mrs. Packard, and the world 
outside is waiting to hear the latest gossip ! 

MRS. PACKARD 

I'll go, my dear, because I've offended you and 
I know you are not ready to forgive me, but I 
promise not to breathe it to a soul not to a soul 

[Exit up centre in such a way that one knows 
she is excited and eager to tell it to every one she 
meets.'] 

ENID 

Diana, I'll never forgive you for not telling me 
you married Aubrey. Why didn't you tell me that 
you married Aubrey ? 

DIANA 
But I didn't. 

FELIX 
You didn't? 

ENID 
But you said 

DIANA 

Oh, what I said! It doesn't matter what I 
said 

ENID 
But she'll tell everyone. 

DIANA 

Of course she will 

ENID 
But if it's not true 

[ 32 ] 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

DIANA 

It might be true 

ENID 

But it's not is it? 

DIANA 

I told you it wasn't 

ENID 

But now I don't know whether to believe you. or 
not 

DIANA 

Nor will other people know whether to believe 
her or not 

FELIX 

But when Aubrey hears of it Diana what will 
lie think 

DIANA 

He will wish that it were true 

FELIX 
But what will he say about you 

DIANA 

He will say that 7 wish it were true 

FELIX 
And do you ? 

DIANA 

I do! 

ENID 

Have you found out since he left that you really 
love him 



HE SAID AND SHE SAID 

DIANA 

Madly madly madly 

FELIX 
[Teasingly] Shall I cable him that? 

DIANA 

I have already. 

ENID 
You haven't! 

DIANA 

I have. I'm going to marry him by proxy. 

FELIX 
[Offering glass~\ Do have a cocktail on that. 

ENID 

But when we tell people you married him by 
proxy after Mrs. Packard has told them you are 
married already, what will people say? 

DIANA 

[Takes cocktail with a smile~] What will people 
say? In any case, exactly what they choose! 

CURTAIN 



OVERTONES 

A ONE- ACT PLAY 



CHARACTERS 

HARRIET, a cultured woman 
HETTY, her primitive self 
MARGARET, a cultured woman 
MAGGIE, her primitive self 



"Overtones" was produced by the Washington Square 
Players under the direction of Edward Goodman at the 
Bandbox Theatre, New York City, beginning November 8, 
1915, to represent an American one-act play on a bill of 
four comparative comedies, "Literature" by Arthur Schnitz- 
ler of Austria, "The Honorable Lover" by Roberto Bracco 
of Italy, and "Whims" by Alfred de Musset of France. In 
the cast were the following: 

HETTY Josephine A. Meyer 

HARRIET, her overtone . . . Agnes McCarthy 

MAGGIE Noel Haddon 

MARGARET, her overtone . . . Grace Griswold 

The scene was designed by Lee Simonson and the cos- 
tumes and draperies by Bertha Holley. 

"Overtones" was subsequently presented in vaudeville by 
Martin Beck, beginning at the Palace Theatre, Chicago. 
February 28, 1916, with Helene Lackaye as star, with the 
following cast: 

HARRIET, a cultured woman . . . Helene Lackaye 
HETTY, her primitive self . . . Ursula Faucett 
MARGARET, a cultured woman . . Francesco, RotoU 
MAGGIE, her primitive self . . . Nellie Dent 

The scene was designed by Jerome Blum. 

Next played in London by Lily Langtry. Published by 
Doubleday, Page & Co. in a volume of "Four Washington 
Square Plays." 

COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



OVERTONES 

TIME : The present. 

SCENE: Harriet's fashionable living-room. The 
door at the back leads to the hall. In the centre a 
tea table with a high-backed chair at each side. 

Harriet's gown is a light, "jealous" green. Her 
counterpart, Hetty, wears a gown of the same de- 
sign but in a darker shade. Margaret wears a 
gown of lavender chiffon while her counterpart, 
Maggie, wears a gown, of the same design in 
purple, a purple scarf veiling her face. Chiffon is 
used to give a sheer effect, suggesting a possibility 
of primitive and cultured selves merging into one 
woman. The primitive and cultured selves never 
come into actual physical contact but try to sus- 
tain the impression of mental conflict. Harriet 
never sees Hetty, never talks to her but rather 
thinks aloud looking into space. Hetty, however, 
looks at Harriet, talks intently and shadows her 
continually. The same is true of Margaret and 
Maggie. The voices of the cultured women are 
affected and lingering, the voices of the primitive 
impulsive and more or less staccato. 

When the curtain rises Harriet is seated right 
of tea table, busying herself with the tea things. 

HETTY 

Harriet. [There is no answer."] Harriet, my 
other self. [There is no answer.'] My trained 
self. 

[37 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

[Listen* intently] Yes? 

[From behind Harriet's chair Hetty rises 
slowly. ,] 

HETTY 
I want to talk to you. 

HARRIET 
Well? 

HETTY 

[Looking at Harriet admiringly] Oh, Harriet, 
you are beautiful to-day. 

HARRIET 
Am I presentable, Hetty? 

HETTY 
Suits me. 

HARRIET 
I've tried to make the best of the good points. 

HETTY 

My passions are deeper than yours. I can't 
keep on the mask as you do. I'm crude and real, 
you are my appearance in the world. 

HARRIET 
I am what you wish the world to believe you are. 

HETTY 
You are the part of me that has been trained. 

HARRIET 

I am your educated self. 
[38 ] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 

I am the rushing river; you are the ice over the 
current. 

HARRIET 
I am your subtle overtones. 

HETTY 

But together we are one woman, the wife of 
Charles Goodrich. 

HARRIET 

There I disagree with you, Hetty, I alone am 
his wife. 

HETTY 

[Indignantly] Harriet, how can you say such a 
thing ! 

HARRIET 

Certainly. I am the one who flatters him. I 
have to be the one who talks to him. If I gave you 
a chance you would tell him at once that you dislike 
him. 

HETTY 
[Moving away'} I don't love him, that's certain. 

HARRIET 

You leave all the fibbing to me. He doesn't 
suspect that my calm, suave manner hides your 
hatred. Considering the amount of scheming it 
causes me it can safely be said that he is my 
husband. 

HETTY 
Oh, if you love him 

[ 39 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

I? I haven't any feelings. It isn't my business 
to love anybody. 

HETTY 

Then why need you object to calling him my 
husband? 

HARRIET 

I resent your appropriation of a man who is 
managed only through the cleverness of my 
artifice. 

HETTY 

You may be clever enough to deceive him, Har- 
riet, but I am still the one who suffers. I can't 
forget he is my husband. I can't forget that I 
might have married John Caldwell. 

HARRIET 

How foolish of you to remember John, just be- 
cause we met his wife by chance. 

HETTY 

That's what I want to talk to you about. She 
may be here at any moment. I want to advise you 
about what to say to her this afternoon. 

HARRIET 

By all means tell me now and don't interrupt 
while she is here. You have a most annoying habit 
of talking to me when people are present. Some- 
times it is all I can do to keep my poise and appear 
not to be listening to you. 

HETTY 
Impress her. 

[ 40 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

Hetty, dear, is it not my custom to impress 
people? 

HETTY 
I hate her. 

HARRIET 
I can't let her see that. 

HETTY 
I hate her because she married John. 

HARRIET 
Only after you had refused him. 

HETTY 

[Turning to Harriet^ Was it my fault that I 
refused him? 

HARRIET 
That's right, blame me. 

HETTY 

It was your fault. You told me he was too poor 
and never would be able to do anything in painting. 
Look at him now, known in Europe, just returned 
from eight years in Paris, famous. 

HARRIET 

It was too poor a gamble at the time. It was 
much safer to accept Charles's money and position. 

HETTY 

And then John married Margaret within the 
year. 

[ 41 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 
Out of spite. 

HETTY 
Freckled, gauky-looking thing she was, too. 

HARRIET 

\_A little sadly~] Europe improved her. She was 
stunning the other morning. 

HETTY 

Make her jealous to-day. 

HARRIET 
Shall I be haughty or cordial or caustic or 

HETTY 

Above all else you must let her know that we are 
rich. 

HARRIET 
Oh, yes, I do that quite easily now. 

HETTY 
You must put it on a bit. 

HARRIET 
Never fear. 

HETTY 
Tell her I love my husband. 

HARRIET 
My husband 

HETTY 

Are you going to quarrel with me? 
[ 42 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

[Moves away] No, I have no desire to quarrel 
with you. It is quite too uncomfortable. I 
couldn't get away from you if I tried. 

HETTY 

[Stamping her foot and following Harriet] 
You were a stupid fool to make me refuse John, 
I'll never forgive you never 

HARRIET 

[Stopping and holding up her hand} Don't get 
me all excited. I'll be in no condition to meet her 
properly this afternoon. 

HETTY 

[Passionately] I could choke you for robbing 
me of John. 

HARRIET 
[Retreating] Don't muss me! 

HETTY 
You don't know how you have made me suffer. 

HARRIET 

[Beginning to feel the strength of Hetty's 
emotion surge through her and trying to conquer 
it] It is not my business to have heartaches. 

HETTY 

You're bloodless. Nothing but sham sham 
while I 

HARRIET 

[Emotionally] Be quiet ! I can't let her see that 
I have been fighting with my inner self. 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 

And now after all my suffering you &ay it has 
cost you more than it has cost me to be married to 
Charles. But it's the pain here in my heart I've 
paid the price I've paid Charles is not your 
husband ! 

HARRIET 
[Trying to conquer emotion] He is. 

HETTY 
{Follows Harriet] He isn't. 

HARRIET 
[Weakly] He is. 

HETTY 
[Towering over Harriet] He isn't ! I'll kill you ! 

HARRIET 

[Overpowered, sinks into a chair] Don't don't 
you're stronger than I you're 

HETTY 

S'ay he's mine. 

HARRIET 
He's ours. 

HETTY 

[The telephone rings] There she is now. 
[Hetty hurries to 'phone but Harriet regains 
her supremacy.] 

HARRIET 

[Authoritatively] Wait! I can't let the tele- 
[ 44 ] 



OVERTONES 

phone girl down there hear my real self. It isn't 
proper. [At 'phone.] Show Mrs. Caldwell up. 

HETTY 

I'm so excited, my heart's in my mouth. 

HARRIET 

\_At the mirror] A nice state you've put my 
nerves into. 

HETTY 
Don't let her see you're nervous 

HARRIET* 

Quick, put the veil on, or she'll see you shining 
through me. 

[Harriet takes a scarf of chiffon that has been 
lying over the back of a chair and drapes it on 
Hetty, covering her face. The chiffon is the same 
color of their gowns but paler in shade so that it 
pales Hetty's darker gown to match Harriet's 
lighter one. As Hetty moves in the following scene 
the chiffon falls away revealing now and then the 
gown of deeper dye underneath.] 

HETTY 

Tell her Charles is rich and fascinating boast 
of our friends, make her feel she needs us. 

HARRIET 
I'll make her ask John to paint us. 



*(The vaudeville production did not use Harriet's line 
about the veil because at the rise of the curtain Hetty is 
already veiled in chiffon the same dark green shade as her 
gown.) 

[ 45 ] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 

That's just my thought if John paints our 
portrait 

HARRIET 
We can wear an exquisite gown 

HETTY 
And make him fall in love again and 

HARRIET 

[Sc~hemmgly~] Yes. 

[Margaret parts the portieres back centre and 
extends her hand. Margaret is followed by her 
counterpart Maggie.] 

Oh, Margaret, I'm so glad to see you ! 

HETTY 
[To Maggie} That's a lie. 

MARGARET 

[In superficial voice throughout] It's enchanting 
to see you, Harriet. 

MAGGIE 

[In emotional voice throughout] I'd bite you, if 
I dared. 

HARRIET 

[To Margaret] Wasn't our meeting a stroke of 
luck? 

MARGARET 

[Coming down left of table] I've thought of 
you so often, Harriet ; and to come back and find 
you living in New York. 

[ 46] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

[Coming down right of table] Mr. Goodrich has 
many interests here. 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] Flatter her. 

MARGARET 
I know, Mr. Goodrich is so successful. 

HETTY 

[To Harriet} Tell her we're rich. 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] Won't you sit down? 

MARGARET 
[Takes a chair] What a beautiful cabinet!* 

HARRIET 

Do you like it? I'm afraid Charles paid an ex- 
travagant price. 

MAGGIE 
[To Hetty] I don't believe it. 

MARGARET 

[Sitting down. To Harriet] I am sure he must 
have. 

HARRIET 

[Sitting down] How well you are looking, Mar- 
garet. 

HETTY 

Yes, you are not. There are circles under your 
eyes. 



* What beautiful lamps! (In vaudeville production.) 

[ 47 ] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 

[To Hetty} I haven't eaten since breakfast and 
I'm 'hungry. 

MARGARET 
[To Harriet'} How well you are looking, too. 

MAGGIE 

[To Hetty} You have hard lines about your 
lips, are you happy? 

HETTY 

[To Harriet} Don't let her know that I'm un- 
happy. 

HARRIET 

[To Margaret] Why shouldn't I look well? My 
life is full, bappy, complete 

MAGGIE 
I wonder. 

HETTY 

[In Harriet's ear] Tell her we have an automo- 
bile. 

MARGARET 
[To Harriet] My life is complete, too. 

MAGGIE 

My heart is torn with sorrow; my husband can- 
not make a living. He will kill himself if he does 
not get an order for a painting. 

MARGARET 

[Laughs] You must come and see us in our 
studio. John has been doing some excellent por- 
traits. He cannot begin to fill his orders. 
[48 ] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Tell her we have an automobile. 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] Do you take lemon in your tea? 

MAGGIE 
Take cream. It's more filling. 

MARGARET 

\~Looking nonchalantly at tea things] No, cream, 
if you please. How cozy ! 

MAGGIE 

{Glaring at tea things] Only cakes! I could 
eat them all ! 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] How many lumps? 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] Sugar is nourishing. 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] Three, please. I used to drink 
very sweet coffee in Turkey and ever since I've 

HETTY 
I don't believe you were ever in Turkey. 

MAGGIE 
I wasn't, but it is none of your business. 

HARRIET 

[Pouring tea] Have you been in Turkey, do tell 
me about it. 

[ 49 ] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] Change the subject. 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] You must go there. You have so 
much taste in dress you would enjoy seeing their 
costumes. 

MAGGIE 
Isn't she going to pass the cake? 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] John painted several portraits 
there. 

HETTY 

[To Harriet] Why don't you stop her bragging 
and tell her we have an automobile? 

HARRIET 
[Offers cake across the table to Margaret] Cake? 

MAGGIE 

[Stands back of Margaret, shadowing her as 
Hetty shadows Harriet. Maggie reaches claws 
out for the cake and groans with joy.] At last ! 
[But Tier claws do not touch the cake.] 

MARGARET 

[With a graceful, nonchalant hand places cake 
upon her plate and bites at it slowly and deli- 
cately]. Thank you. 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Automobile! 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret] Follow up the costumes with the 
[ 50 ] 



OVERTONES 

suggestion that she would make a good model for 
John. It isn't too early to begin getting what 
you came for. 

MARGARET 
[Ignoring Maggie] What delicious cake. 

HETTY 

[Excitedly to Harriet] There's your chance for 
the auto. 

HARRIET 

[Nonchalantly to Margaret] Yes, it is good 
cake, isn't it? There are always a great many 
people buying it at Harper's. I sat in my auto- 
mobile fifteen minutes this morning waiting for 
my chauffeur to get it. 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] Make her order a portrait. 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] If you stopped at Harper's you 
must have noticed the new gowns at Henderson's. 
Aren't the shop windows alluring these days? 

HARRIET 
Even my chauffeur notices them. 

MAGGIE 

I know you have an automobile, I heard you the 
first time. 

MARGARET 

I notice gowns now with an artist's eye as John 
does. The one you have on, my dear, is very 
paintable. 

[ 51 ] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 
Don't let her see you're anxious to be painted. 

HARRIET 
[Nonchalantly] Oh, it's just a little model. 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret] Don't seem anxious to get the 
order. 

MARGARET 

[Nonchalantly] Perhaps it isn't the gown itself 
but the way you wear it that pleases the eye. 
Some people can wear anything with grace. 

HETTY 
Yes, I'm very graceful. 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] You flatter me, my dear. 

MARGARET 

On the contrary, Harriet, I have an intense ad- 
miration for you. I remember how beautiful you 
were as a girl. In fact, I was quite jealous when 
John was paying you so much attention. 

HETTY 
She is gloating because I lost him. 

HARRIET 
Those were childhood days in a country town. 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret] She's trying to make you feel 
that John was only a country boy. 
[ 52] 



OVERTONES 

MARGARET 

Mast great men have come from the country. 
There is a fair chance that John will be added to 
the list. 

HETTY 
I know it and I am bitterly jealous of you. 

HARRIET 

Undoubtedly he owes much of his success to you, 
Margaret, your experience in economy and your 
ability to endure hardship. Those first few years 
in Paris must have been a struggle. 

MAGGIE 
She is sneering at your poverty. 

MARGARET 

Yes, we did find life difficult at first, not the luxu- 
rious start a girl has who marries wealth. 

HETTY 

[To Harriet} Deny that you married Charles 
for his money. 

[Harriet deems it wise to ignore Hetty 9 s advice J] 

MARGARET 

But John and I are so congenial in our tastes, 
that we were impervious to hardship or unhap- 
piness. 

HETTY 

\In angulsli] Do you love each other? Is it 
really true? 

HARRIET 

[Sweetly] Did you 'have all the romance of 
starving for his art? 

[53] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret] She's taunting you. Get even 
with her. 

MARGARET 

Not for long. Prince Rier soon discovered 
John's genius, and introduced him royally to 
wealthy Parisians who gave him many orders. 

HETTY 

[To Maggie] Are you telling the truth or are 
you lying? 

HARRIET 

If he had so many opportunities there, you must 
have had great inducements to come back to the 
States. 

MAGGIE 
[To Hetty] We did, but not the kind you think. 

MARGARET 

John became the rage among Americans travel- 
ling in France, too, and they simply insisted upon 
his coming here. 

HARRIET 
Whom is he going to paint here? 

MAGGIE 
[Frightened] What names dare I make up? 

MARGARET 

[Calmly] Just at present Miss Dorothy Ains- 
worth of Oregon is posing. You may not know 
the name, but she is the daughter of a wealthy 
miner who found gold in Alaska. 
C 54 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 

I dare say there are many Western people we 
have never heard of. 

MARGARET 

You must have found social life in New York 
very interesting, Harriet, after the simplicity of 
our home town. 

HETTY 

[To Maggie'] There's no need to remind us that 
our beginnings were the same. 

HARRIET 

Of course Charles's family made everything de- 
lightful for me. They are so well connected. 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] Flatter her. 

MARGARET 

I heard it mentioned yesterday that you had 
made yourself very popular. Some one said you 
were very clever ! 

HARRIET 
[Pleased] Who told you that 

MAGGIE 
Nobody! 

MARGARET 

[Pleasantly] Oh, confidences should be suspected 
respected, I mean. They said, too, that you are 
gaining some reputation as a critic of art. 
[ 55 ] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 
I make no pretenses. 

MARGARET 

Are you and Mr. Goodrich interested in the same 
things, too? 

HETTY 
No! 

HARRIET 
Yes, indeed, Charles and I are inseparable. 

MAGGIE 
I wonder. 

HARRIET 
Do have another cake. 

MAGGIE 

[In relief] Oh, yes. 

[Again her claws extend but do not touch the 
cake.] 

MARGARET 

[Takes cake delicately] I really shouldn't 
after my big luncheon. John took me to the Ritz 
and we are invited to the Bedford's for dinner 
they have such a magnificent house near the drive 
I really shouldn't, but the cakes are so good. 

MAGGIE 
Starving ! 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] More tea? 

MAGGIE 
Yes! 

[ 56 ] 



OVERTONES 

MARGARET 

No, thank you. How wonderfully life 'has ar- 
ranged itself for you. Wealth, position, a happy 
marriage, every opportunity to enjoy all pleas- 
ures; beauty, art how happy you must be. 

HETTY 

[In anguish] Don't call me happy. I've never 
been happy since I gave up John. All these years 
without him a future without him no no I 
shall win him back away from you away from 
you 

HARRIET 

[Does not see Maggie pointing to cream and 
Margaret stealing some] I sometimes think it is 
unfair for any one to be as happy as I am. Charles 
and I are just as much in love now as when we 
married. To me he is just the dearest man in the 
world. 

MAGGIE 

[Passionately] My John is. I love him so much 
I could die for him. I'm going through hunger 
and want to make him great and he loves me. He 
worships me! 

MARGARET 

[Leisurely to Harriet] I should like to meet 
Mr. Goodrich. Bring him to our studio. John has 
some sketches to show. Not many, because all the 
portraits have been purchased by the subjects. He 
gets as much as four thousand dollars now. 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Don't pay that much. 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] As much as that? 

MARGARET 

It is not really too much when one considers that 
John is in the foremost rank of artists to-day. A 
picture painted by him now will double and treble 
in value. 

MAGGIE 
It's a lie. He is growing weak with despair. 

HARRIET 
Does he paint all day long ? 

MAGGIE 
No, he draws advertisements for our bread. 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] When you and your husband 
come to se us, telephone first 

MAGGIE 

Yes, so he can get the advertisements out of the 
way. 

MARGARET 

Otherwise you might arrive while he has a sitter, 
and John refuses to let me disturb him then. 

HETTY 
Make her ask for an order. 

HARRIET 

[To Margaret] Le Grange offered to paint me 
for a thousand. 

[ 58] 



OVERTONES 

MARGARET 

Louis Le Grange's reputation isn't worth more 
than that. 

HARRIET 
Well, I've heard his work well mentioned. 

MAGGIE 
Yes, he is doing splendid work. 

MARGARET 

Oh, dear me, no. He is only praised by the 
masses. He is accepted not at all by artists them- 
selves. 

HETTY 
[Anxiously~\ Must I really pay the full price? 

HARRIET 

Le Grange thought I would make a good sub- 
ject. 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret^ Let her fish for it. 

MARGARET 

Of course you would. Why don't you let Le 
Grange paint you, if you trust him? 

HETTY 
She doesn't seem anxious to have John do it. 

HARRIET 

But if Le Grange isn't accepted by artists, it 
would be a waste of time to pose for him, wouldn't 
it? 

MARGARET 
Yes, I think it would. 

[ 59 ] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 

[Passionately to Hetty across back of table] 
Give us the order. John is so despondent he can't 
endure much longer. Help us ! Help me ! Save 
us! 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Don't seem too eager. 

HARRIET 

And yet if he charges only a thousand one might 
consider it. 

MARGARET 

If you really wish to be painted, why don't you 
give a little more and have a portrait really worth 
while? John might be induced to do you for a 
little below his usual price considering that you 
used to be such good friends. 

HETTY 
[In glee\ Hurrah ! 

HARRIET 

[Quietly to Margaret] That's very nice of you 
to suggest of course I don't know 

MAGGIE 
[In fear] For God's sake, say yes. 

MARGARET 

[Quietly to Harriet] Of course, I don't know 
whether John would. He is very peculiar in these 
matters. He sets his value on his work and thinks 
it beneath him to discuss price. 
[ 60] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 

[To Maggie] You needn't try to make us feel 
small. 

MARGARET 

Still, I might quite delicately mention to him that 
inasmuch as you have many influential friends you 
would be very glad to to 

MAGGIE 
[To Hetty'] Finish what I don't want to say. 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Help her out. 

HARRIET 

Oh, yes, introductions will follow the exhibition 
of my portrait. No doubt I 

HETTY 
[To Harriet] Be patronizing. 

HARRIET 

No doubt I shall be able to introduce your hus- 
band to his advantage. 

MAGGIE 
[Relieved] Saved. 

MARGARET 

If I find John in a propitious mood I shall take 
pleasure, for your sake, in telling him about your 
beauty. Just as you are sitting now would be a 
lovely pose. 

MAGGIE 
[To Margaret] We can go now, 

[ 61 ] 



OVERTONES 

HETTY 

[To Harriet} Don't let her think she is doing us 
a favor. 

HARRIET 

It will give me pleasure to add my name to your 
husband's list of patronesses. 

MAGGIE 

[Excitedly to Margaret} Run home and tell 
John the good news. 

MARGARET 

[Leisurely to Harriet} I little guessed when I 
came for a pleasant chat about old times that it 
would develop into business arrangements. I had 
no idea, Harriet, that you had any intention of 
being painted. By Le Grange, too. Well, I came 
just in time to rescue you. 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret} Run home and tell John. Hurry, 
hurry ! 

HETTY 

[To Harriet} You managed the order very 
neatly. She doesn't suspect that you wanted it. 

HARRIET 

Now if I am not satisfied with my portrait I 
shall blame you, Margaret, dear. I am relying 
upon your opinion of John's talent. 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret} She doesn't suspect what you 
came for. Run home and tell John ! 
[ 62] 



OVERTONES 

HARRIET 
You always had a brilliant mind, Margaret. 

MARGARET 
Ah, it is you who flatter, now. 

MAGGIE 

[To Margaret'] You don't have to stay so long. 
Hurry home ! 

HARRIET 
Ah, one does not flatter when one tells the truth. 

MARGARET 

[Smiles] I must be going or you will have me 
completely under your spell. 

HETTY 

[Looks at clock] Yes, do go. I have to dress 
for dinner. 

HARRIET 
[To Margaret] Oh, don't hurry. 

MAGGIE 
[To Hettie] I hate you ! 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet] No, really I must, but I hope we 
shall see each other often at the studio. I find you 
so stimulating. 

HETTY 
[To Maggie] I hate you ! 

HARRIET 

[To Margaret] It is indeed gratifying to find a 
kindred spirit. 

[ 63 ] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 
[To Hetty] I came for your gold. 

MARGARET 

[To Harriet"] How delightful it is to know you 
again. 

HETTY 

[To Maggie] I am going to make you and your 
husband suffer. 

HARRIET 
My kinds regards to John. 

MAGGIE 
[To Hetty"] He has forgotten all about you. 

MARGARET 
[Rises] He will be so happy to receive them. 

HETTY 

[To Maggie] I can hardly wait to talk to him 
again. 

HARRIET 
I shall wait, then, until you send me word? 

MARGARET 

[Offering Tier hand] I'll speak to John about it 
as soon as I can and tell you when to come. 

[Harriet takes Margaret's hand affectionately. 
Hetty and Maggie rush at each other, throw back 
their veils, and fling their speeches fiercely at each 
other.] 

HETTY 

I love him I love him 
[ 64 ] 



OVERTONES 

MAGGIE 
He's starving I'm starving 

HETTY 
I'm going to take hi'm away from you 

MAGGIE 
I want your money and your influence. 

HETTY and MAGGIE 

I'm going to rob you rob you. 

[There is a cymbal crash, the lights go out and 
come up again slowly, leaving only Margaret and 
Harriet visible .] 

MARGARET 

[Quietly to Harriet] I've had such a delightful 
afternoon. 

HARRIET 
[Offering her hand] It has been a joy to see you. 

MARGARET 
[Sweetly to Harriet] Good-bye. 

HARRIET 

[Sweetly to Margaret as she kisses her] Good- 
bye, my dear. 

CURTAIN 



[ 65 ] 



THE UNSEEN 



A ONE-ACT PLAY 



CHARACTERS 

JEFFRY BALDWIN 

Lois (his wife) 

HULDA (a Swedish servant) 

COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 

First production at the Playshop Theatre at the Edge- 
water Beach Hotel, Chicago, under direction of Elisha 
Cook, August 26, 1918. Later produced at Grace Hickox 
Studios, Chicago, by Ypsilanti Players, Michigan, etc. 



THE UNSEEN 

SCENE: A dining-room. Centre stands a table; 
Lois is seated at one end, Jeffry at the other. 

HULDA 

[Placing platter of chopped meat balls on table] 
It vas not my fault! You say dees morning, 
Meeses Baldwin, you say haf meat balls dere 
meat balls you no say soup ! 

Lois 

That will do, Hulda, that will do, we don't wish 
to hear another word about it. 

HULDA 

But I von't haf Meester Baldwin tink I wrong 
You no say soup dees morning if you order 
soup, I make soup but 

JEFFRY 
Stop it ! Stop it ! 



All de time all de time say keep down bills! 
I keep down bills I cook only vat she say she no 
say soup 

Lois 

But you know 'I meant to order soup 

HULDA 

I can't smell vat you vant I can'1 
[69] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 
That will do ! Leave the room ! 

Lois 

Yes, didn't you cook anything else but meat? 
Haven't you any vegetables ? 

HULDA 

Oh, you make me so mad! [She goes out back 
centre muttering.] 

Lois 

Poor dear Jeffry, are you awfully hungry? 
[Serves meat.'] 

JEFFRY 

You'd better ship her right off. I can't work 
all day and come home to food like this [puts 
fork into meat] hard as rocks! 

Lois 

No one else will come for the small price we pay. 
We'll have to put up with her! 

JEFFRY 
Send her or lose me, take your choice! 

Lois 

[Teasmgly] Keep her or lose me take your 
choice! I have a home and a mother. 

JEFFRY 

Well, if it's a case of your mother or keeping 
Hulda I think we'll keep Hulda. 

HULDA 

[Enters with bowl] Dees ees de ashpagus. 
[70] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 

Oh, yes, Jeffry, I bought some beautiful green 
asparagus for you! Why, Hulda, where are the 
heads ? 

HULDA 
The vat? [At Lois' left.'] 

Lois 
Why ! you've cut off all the heads ! 

HULDA 
Yaas, dey looked too wrinkled. 

Lois 

Oh, what's the use! Oh, you fool! You've cut 
off the best part! 

JEFFRY 
Didn't you ever cook asparagus before? 

HULDA 

Meester Baldwin, I advertise for general house- 
work and for de cooking of potatoes and eggs and 
ven I cook vat she bring I cook to oblige 

JEFFRY 

[To Lois'] Why didn't you go into the kitchen 
yourself and show her? After all it is your job to 
look after things you know jolly well, you've 
been slacking. 

Lois 

To Mr. Baldwin's left, Hulda. When will you 
learn which is right and which is left? 



THE UNSEEN 

HULDA 

[Looks dazed] I vas dere for you [points to 
Lois 9 left] so I come here. 

Lois 
But my left is his right go over there 

JEFFRY 

Really, Lois, I think you might train her in the 
daytime when I'm not here. 

Lois 

I've sewing to do and a lot of things ! You have 
no idea how tired I get. I try in every way to 
save for you and help keep up appearances. 

HTJI/DA 

[To Jeffry who is having difficulty with the 
asparagus] Take dem in your fingers, Meester 
Baldwin: dat's de way I hold dem in de kitchen. 

Lois 

Hulda! You must not speak unless you're 
spoken to! 

HULDA 

[Going out with dish] Yaas, I no forget again. 
[Exit.] 

Lois 
Oh, I'm exhausted. 

JEFFRY 

Poor brave little dear ! I wish I could give you 
what other women have, pearls 
[ 72] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 

It's all right, Jeffry, you would if you could. 
Anyway, we have our love. 

HULDA 

[Enters with baked potatoes, which she passes 
to Jewry's left] 'Potatoes? 

Lois 
You should pass them to me first, Hulda. 

JEFFRY 
[Does not take any] To Mrs. Baldwin first. 

Lois 

[As Hulda goes to her right side] The other 
side, Hulda. 

JEFFRY 

Lois, I went to Appleton, Kennedy and Com- 
pany this morning to ask about my designs. 

Lois 
Oh, what did they say? 

JEFFRY 

They said they were waiting to hear the answer 
from the New York branch to-day. To-day the 
New York branch was to make the final decision 
between the three best designs. Here, Hulda, come 
back, I want a potato. 

HULDA 

[Who was going out] Vy I stood dere before 
[She comes back dazed not understanding things at 
all. As she does so she tips the plate and a potato 
[ 73 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

rolls on the floor. She scrambles after it, in doing 
so trips and falls full length, smashing the plate.'} 

Lois 

[Begins to cry and laugh hysterically'} Oh, it's 
just too dreadful! My pretty plate! 

JEFFRY 

[Helps Hulda up; sets her iip like a waxen 
image, hands her the fragments of plate, keeps the 
potato, points her toward the door and pushes her 
on her way. She goes out automatically. Then 
he goes to pat Lois.} Never mind, dear, luck's 
coming our way yet. They told me my design was 
one of the three they were considering. Mine is 
one of three ! 

Lois 

Oh, JefFry! they will take yours! They must 
see that you are a great architect and only need 
your chance ! 

JEFFRY 

There's a dear! You always do encourage me 
so! [Kisses her, remembers baked potato in hand 
and goes bach to his place to eat it.} 

Lois 

[Goes to side-board and takes out a large blue- 
print which she unrolls triumphantly} When I'm 
sewing I day dream about the city you have 
planned. Look at your blue-prints ! Future gen- 
erations in Western Canada will tell their children 
how the big railroad made clearings in the forest, 
how they sent all over the world for plans for the 
[74] 



THE UNSEEN 

building of a model city, and how Jeffry Baldwin, 
master architect, won the contest, built the city 
and became its first mayor ! 

JEFFRY 
You don't stop at anything, do you? 

Lois 

[Spreads blue-print on table] There is the Court 
House with your Honor's chair, and up here on the 
hill, in the very best location, is our new residence. 

HULDA 

[Has come m to remove the plates. She takes 
Lois' plate and looks sideways at the blue-print.'] 

JEFFRY 

[Pointmg to print] There's our garage for the 
car we have not yet 

Lois 
Do you see the pretty curtains in my window? 

HULDA 

[Thinks they are quite mad; she shakes her head 
as she can see no curtains; she piles up Jeffry's 
plates.] 

JEFFRY 

There's the railroad station. I'm a little proud 
of that ! 

Lois 
It will make you famous ! 

JEFFRY 
And rich! 

[75 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 

Hulda! Don't pile up the dishes like that! 
This is not a boarding house ! 

HULDA 

Dat's all right, I am strong enough I von't 
let dem drop ! [Exit.'] 

JEFFRY 

If I win the contest, I promise you some one 
better than Hulda; I'll send you to good dress- 
makers so you may save your own pretty fingers 

Lois 

And we'll go to the theatre oftener, Jeffry, en- 
tertain our friends more Oh, how soon will they 
let you know if you have won ? 

JEFFRY 
I should receive a telegram to-day. 

Lois 

A telegram! To-day? Oh, Jeffry, I am sure 
they will send you one ! 

JEFFRY 

In a way I wish I hadn't told you anything about 
it, 

HULDA 
[Brings in coffee and finger bowls. ~\ 

Lois 
Where's the pie? 

HULDA 
You no order pie ! 

[76 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 
I told you to telephone the bakery 

HULDA 
No, you say you telephone the bakery 

Lois 

Yes, Hulda, for once you're right. I did forget 
it. Forgive me, Jeffry, I really didn't think of 
anything else but my new dress. I want to finish 
it for Sunday. 



[Looks at Jeffry triumphantly] You see, Mees- 
ter Baldwin, I no to blame. [Exit.~\ 

JEFFRY 
Really, Lois, this is quite too much ! 

Lois 
I am ashamed of myself 

JEFFRY 

I wish I hadn't told you about Appleton, Ken- 
nedy and Company. I feel as if telling you has 
spoiled my chances at winning! 

Lois 
Jeffry, no! 

JEFFRY 

You scatter so! You don't concentrate! And 
I've been wishing for success so hard! 

Lois 

So have I ! Why, I've been praying for it and 
praying for it! 

[77] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 

Still, it seems to me as soon as we speak of our 
desires aloud, we start unseen forces in the air to 
work to thwart them! On the unseen side of life 
there must be uncanny influences helping or harm- 
ing us. I feel as if telling you had hurt my 
chances ! 

Lois 

That's unfair of you ! You know I wish you all 
the luck in the world ! 

JEFFRY 

Is there such a thing as luck? Or are we only 
pawns in the power of unseen gods? I've been 
unlucky so long I scarcely dare to hope for success. 

Lois 
Don't get blue ! It must come right ! 

JEFFRY 

Well, I've some drawings to make for the firm 
a rush order you don't mind, do you, if I clear 
everything off of the library table? 

Lois 

Of course not. And I'm going to my room to 
sew my dress. You'll forgive me, won't you, for 
giving you such a dreadful dinner? 

JEFFRY 
[Kisses her] Of course, poor dear ! 

Lois 

I really do love you so, Jeffry. 
[78] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 
Not more than I do you. 

Lois 

Now I know they've given you the prize. I feel 
it in my bones ! 

[She laughs and goes out right. He goes out 
left.-] 

HULDA 

[Enters from centre carrying a yellow tele- 
gram.'] 

Dis telegram gust coom 

[She is surprised that the room is empty.~\ 

Oh, I taught you ver still here. 

[The telephone down left rings. Hulda goes to 
answer it and before she gets there Lois calls from 
off right, "Hulda, Hulda." Hulda runs toward 
right to answer Lois but the telephone rings again 
and she runs back to it. Lois keeps on calling. 
Hulda vaccillates between Lois and the telephone 
and finally goes to the 'phone. As the telegram 
hampers her action with the 9 phone she absent- 
mindedly drops it on a side table littered with 
papers and promptly forgets all about it.~\ 

Halloo, vat you vant? Hold on. 

Lois 

[Off stage] Hulda, Hulda, I can't find my 
thimble. What did you do with my thimble? 

HULDA 
Some von hold on to you. 

[79 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 
[Enters] Did you see my thimble? 

HlJLDA 

It roll under bed. 

Lois 
Why didn't you pick it up? 

HULDA 

It vas time to make dinner. 
[Exit right.] 

Lois 

[At 'phone] Yes? Oh, Mrs. Nichols ! Wait till 
I ask my husband. Jeff ry, Jeffry 

JEFFRY 
[Enters from left] Yes? 

Lois 

[Puts one hand over 'phone] Mrs. Nichols in- 
vites us to dine on Tuesday, shall we accept? 

JEFFRY 
Yes, if you want to 

Lois 

But if they take your de-sign you'll have to go 
right on to New York and 

JEFFRY 

[Cautiously] Ssh ! don't say anything about it. 
I haven't won yet. 

Lois 

I'll accept; we can always call it off. [In 
[ 80 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

9 phone] Oh, Mrs. Nichols, we shall be very happy 
to come. Tuesday at seven, yes, thank you. 

JEFFRY 
[Goes left~] Don't disturb me again, please, dear. 

Lois 

[To Hulda who enters from right] Did you find 
the thimble? 

HULDA 
Yaas, here. 
[Gives Lois thimble.] 

Lois 
[Goes right] Don't stay up too late, Jeffry ! 

HULDA 

[A t table centre] Does yous vant pie for break- 
fast? 

Lois 
[As she goes out right] No! 

JEFFRY 
[As he goes out left] No!!! 

HULDA 

[Clears the table of dishes, muttering to herself] 
Vant pie, no vant pie vant soup no say soup 
vant water lee tie in finger bowls 

[She looks at the finger bowls scornfully and 
begins to wash the coffee cups in them.] 

Ven dey have running all day water in de bath 
tub. 

[She tries to recall the etiquette of service 
through pantomime.] 

[ 81 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

I must bring potatoes to her on right side no, 
not my right side her left side he take potato 
only ven I pass second time over der, no, der, run 
here run der go out coom in go out coom 
in seven dollar a week scrub doost seven dol- 
lar get oop at six o'clock >all dark yet Oh, 

[She rattles off a paragraph of vituperative 
Swedish.] 

[The lights go out to suggest the passing of 
a week.] 

[They come on again to show Hulda setting the 
breakfast table. Lois in dressing gown and break- 
fast cap is helping her.] 

Lois 

[Runs her finger over side-board.] I do believe 
you haven't dusted this room all the week you've 
been here. 

HULDA 
I doost 

JEFFRY 

[Enters from back centre in dressing gown and 
carrying the morning newspapers soaked with 
rain.] It's pouring out! How shall I dry the 
newspapers ? 

Lois 

Hulda, put them next to the stove. Come, 
Jeffry, have your breakfast. 

HULDA 
Put dem in de stove? 

[ 88] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 

No, not in the stove, next to the stove, over a 
chair like this ! 

HTJLDA 
Huh! 
[She goes out back centre.] 

JEFFRY 
Her week's up. Does she stay or go? 

Lois 

[Wearily] I suppose she'll have to stay. I need 
some one and since there's no luck for us we shall 
have to keep on struggling the same old way. 
There's no use in our expecting great things ! 

JEFFRY 
[Disconsolately'] No use at all ! I'm just a dub ! 

Lois 

Oh, it wasn't fair of them not to give you the 
prize, not even to send you any kind of word, no 
telegram, no letter, nothing! They haven't evep 
returned your designs! 

JEFFRY 
Oh, they'll send those back ! 

HULDA 

[Enters centre, places a jar of jam on table and 
begins to straighten up the room and dust, slowly 
working toward the small table littered with papers 
where she had placed the telegram a week ago.] 
[83] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 

All our wishing and praying didn't help a bit ! 
It's almost made an atheist of me ! 

JEFFRY 

I knew I shouldn't have told you I was near 
winning. The witches in the air are mocking me 
for being too cock-sure! 

Lois 

The man whose design they took doesn't look 
half as clever as you do. Look at his picture ! 

[She takes it from the wall where it has been 
pinned. ] 

Every day I've cut out the articles from the 
paper. "John Parker, winner of contest for build- 
ing of model city, on the train going to Western 
Canada with the directors of the road." Oh, it 
should have been you, Jeffry! You should be on 
that train, you ought to be getting all this pub- 
licity. I wonder if the paper has something about 
them again this morning. Hulda, as soon as the 
paper is dry, bring it in Hulda did you hear 
what I said Hulda, answer me [Stamps her 
foot] What is the matter with you? 

HULDA 

[Meanwhile has been dusting and having reached 
the table and discovered the telegram, now shows 
facial expression running the gamut of surprise, 
fear, dumb astonishment. She holds the telegram 
out stupidly.'] 

Dees come a veek ago. 

[ 84 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 
[Snatches telegram] A week ago ? 

Lois 

A telegram comes a week ago and you deliver it 
to us now 

HULDA 

I veery sorry. It not stay in my head. You 
call me telephone ring you lose thimble no pie 
I forget you no order soup telephone ring 
I go der go here I find now ven I doost I 

JEFFRY 

Can you imagine anything more outrageous ! 

My future ruined my hopes gone all because 
of a numbskull like that ! 

Lois 
Let me see, let me see ! 

JEFFRY 

[Reads telegram in a rage] "Jeffry Baldwin: 
Your plans for city accepted ; must see you here at 
once for conference. Wire reply. If do not hear 
from you immediately, must favor other contestant 
who is with us now. Appleton, Kennedy & Co., 
New York City." 

Lois 

[Seizes telegram] "Plans accepted if do not 
hear from you immediately, must favor other con- 
testant" 

JEFFRY 

If do not hear from you immediately a week 
late! 

[ 85 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

\He turns on Hulda] Do you know what you 
have done Oh, I could 

[He goes as if to strike her.~] 

Lois 

Do you know what you've done This telegram 
told Mr. Baldwin he was the winner of an im- 
portant contest that he was to answer at once 
Oh, to have won and then lost because an out- 
rageous fool like you 

JEFFRY 

The success of a life-time gone in a flash! 
For years I've studied, worked, slaved! I put my 
life blood into those designs all my best hopes! 
to reach the goal! achievement! and then like 
that [snaps his fingers \ gone! 

HULDA 
[Frightened] I veery sorry 

JEFFRY 

You've killed something in me! D you! It 
was murder! 

HULDA 
I not keel you I not 

Lois 

Don't you know telegrams are sent to save time 
how dared you hold it back ! 

HULDA 

Telephone ring you call thimble pie soup 
all same time 

C 86] 



THE UNSEEN 

Lois 
Get out or I'll strike you ! 

JEFFRY 
Leave this house or I'll throw you out ! 

HULDA 

You send me avay? But I forgot telegram I 
not steal telegram 

Lois 

Get out, or I'll throw something at you ! 
[Raises dish from table.] 

HULDA 
[Dodges out back centre.] 

Lois 

Oh, my poor Jeffry ! 
[Goes to him.] 

JEFFRY 

[Flings Lois aside] Don't touch me! It's your 
fault ! I told you not to keep a girl like that ! You 
will never listen to what I say ! It's all your fault 
for not ordering the pie ! 

Lois 
The pie had nothing to do with it ! 

JEFFRY 

What's a wife supposed to be to a man? 
Haven't your slack methods ruined my prospects 
for life? 

Lois 

I haven't ruined your prospects ! I've done my 
[ 87 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

best to skimp and slave to help you in every way. 
I only kept Hulda because you couldn't afford to 
pay any one else. 

JEFFRY 

We couldn't afford her that's certain ! By this 
time I should have been on the train instead of 
Parker. I might have lost straight through but 
this winning and then losing what does it mean? 
There are mad devils in the air mocking me! 
[Looks off into space] D you ! 

Lois 

Jeffry, you're not sane when you say such 
things! There's nothing in the air! 

JEFFRY 

How do you know our lives are not watched? 
How do you know but what the spirit of some dead 
enemy isn't taking revenge? 

Lois 
That's horrible! 

JEFFRY 

How else can you explain my defeat? Don't I 
work hard? Am I not sober, honest and careful? 
Don't I deserve success? What's the matter with 
me? What have I done to fail? 

Lois 

It's not your fault, Jeffry, it's just Fate against 
us! 

JEFFRY 
And what's Fate? A spirit hating me? An evil 

[ 88 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

spirit not wanting me to win, made Hulda pur- 
posely forget to give me the telegram ! Is it fair 
to have to fight the spirits in the unseen ? [Shakes 
fist at goblins in air.] I have strong hands to fight 
against flesh but I am powerless to fight the influ- 
ences of the air! 

Lois 
You're going crazy, be patient. 

JEFFRY 

Patient! I have waited long enough! I don't 
want success when I'm too old to enjoy it. I want 
it now while I've still red blood in my veins! I 
want it now! Do you hear me, you there in the 
Unseen. I demand success now ! 

Lois 

[Sadly] Perhaps, Jeffry, we must learn not to 
expect so much. 

JEFFRY 

That's the trouble with you. You never let me 
go on, you always hold me back If you had dis- 
missed Hulda as I told you to, this never would 
have happened. You hinder me at every turn 

Lois 

[Indignantly] Hinder you! Indeed! You're 
getting help from me all the time. I'm a fool to 
stay and endure it. 

JEFFRY 

You shouldn't have married me if you weren't 
willing to stand by me. 

[89] 



THE UNSEEN 

LOL* 

You shouldn't have married me Vhen you didn't 
have enough to support me. 

JEFFRY 

I wish I had known in time how extravagant you 
are. 

Lois 
I'm not extravagant ! 

JEFFRY 
You are! 

Lois 
Do you want me to leave you? 

JEFFRY 
I'm sick of your threats. 

Lois 
I'm sick of you ! 

JEFFRY 
Then we're quits ! 

Lois 
You don't care for me ! 

JEFFRY 
You certainly don't care for me! 

Lois 
I do! 

JEFFRY 
You don't! 

Lois 
I do. You don't ! 

[ 90 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 
I do! 

Lois 
You don't! 

JEFFRY 
/ do. You don't ! 

Lois 
No, I don't! I'm going! 

JEFFRY 
[Furiously'] All right, go on! 

Lois 
[Furiously; starts back centre] Good-bye! 

JEFFRY 
Good-bye ! 

HULDA 

[Enters back centre and Lois has to retreat 
down stage; wears a ridiculous hat and shawl and 
carries a dilapidated suit-case and several weird 
hat-boxes. She holds out the dried newspapers. 
Lois seizes them.] 

The newspapers ees dry. 

Lois 
Get out ! I never want to see you again ! 

HULDA 

[Looks imploringly at Jeffry] You vant me to 
go? You please geeve me vages? I haf noding 
but a nickel. 

JEFFRY 
Give you wages for ruining my life? 

[91 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

HULDA 

Von veek seven dollar 

JEFFRY 
[Flings money at her'] There! Get out! 

HULDA 

Tank you. 

[She picks up money and boxes to go out 
centre.] 

Lois 

[Meanwhile has come down stage left reading 
headlines of paper. She now shrieks] Jeffry! 
Jeffry! Floods in Canada! Washed away a 
bridge ! The train with the directors plunged into 
the river ! Parker was killed. 

JEFFRY 
[Down stage right] Parker killed 

Lois 
Jeffry, it might have been you! 

JEFFRY 
It might have been 

Lois 
You're saved! 

JEFFRY 

[In startled realization that it was well that the 
telegram had not Iften delivered to him] Who saved 
me? 

Lois 

[Half in awe to herself] The telegram 
[92 ] 



THE UNSEEN 

JEFFRY 

[/TZ awe as Tie gazes out into space where before 
he had denounced the Unseen} It must have been 
an angel. 

Lois 
[In wild delighf] It was Hulda! 

HULDA 
[Turns stupidly] Huh? 

Lois 

Hulda, Hulda, come back! You've saved his 
life. You must stay with us forever! 

\_Lois pulls her down stage so that she stands 
centre between Jeffry and Lois.] 

HULDA 
Huh! 

JEFFRY 
[Exultantly} Hulda! 

Lois 
[Embracing her] You saved his life ! 

JEFFRY 
[Patting her~\ Hulda, you were the angel!!! 

HULDA 

[Does not understand anything beyond the fact 
that they are friendly to her again. She looks 
straight ahead with an expression of happy 
stupidity and gives an idiotic giggle of delight.] 

CURTAIN 

[ 93 ] 



THE BUFFER 

A ONE-ACT PLAY 



CHARACTERS 

HOMER WHITNEY 

CLARA WHITNEY (his wife) 

LOTTIE (their child) 

DR. JIMMIE PIRIE 

MRS. PAULA MATHEWS 

ANNIE 



First production at Grace Hickox Studios, Chicago, with 
"Lamb" Masters as "Lottie." 

COPYRIGHTED, 1916, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



THE BUFFER 

SCENE: Living room at the Whitneys 9 . Al- 
though well furnished and decorated the room 
lacks the feeling of "home." Clara, a woman of 
about 35 but looking older, is seated primly and 
is knitting monotonously. 

CLARA 

There isn r t any dust in here. I keep house bet- 
ter than that. 

HOMER 

\_A man of the same age but looking older, is 
taking sly glances at himself and his tie in a draw- 
ing room mirror.~\ I didn't say there was. Stop 
clipping off my words. I said instead of fussing 
about housekeeping and sticking to that old wool 
you might try to dance because / like 

CLARA 

{Clipping off his words] I can't see myself hop- 
ping along like a chicken ! I was pretty enough 
when you married me. 

HOMER 

You're a hundred years behind the times ! 
Have you ever tried to keep pace, have you ever 
tried to 

CLARA 

Have you ever cared to understand me? Have 
you ever put yourself out 
[ 97 ] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 

[His hands to his ears'] Every day, every day, 
it's intolerable! What's the matter with that 
grate? Can't we keep a fire? 

CLARA 
[Rises to put wood into grate J\ 

HOMER 

[Rings bell] I didn't ask you to build a fire. 
Why will you insist upon doing servant's work! 
Can't you learn to represent my wealth? Must 
you always show your origin? Look at your 
hands ! 

CLARA 

My family's as good as yours. May be better. 
They've always been upright, self-respecting 
stock! A lot of fine airs you've a right to stick 
on when [She stops as maid enters.] 

HOMER 
Annie, the hearth is cold. 

ANNIE 

[Enters from right, gives Mr. and Mrs. Whit- 
ney a curious glance and goes to put another log 
on fire.~\ 

Ain't nothin' but ashes. 

[Clara resumes her knitting and Homer busies 
himself lighting a, cigar but is peevish. He glances 
fastidiously at his finger nails. Annie knows they 
do not want to talk m her presence and it amuses 
"her. Exit Annie with a backward glance."} 
[98 ] 



THE BUFFER 

CLARA 

A lot of fine airs you've a right to stick on ! I 
never did like your family I don't know how I 
could ever have thought you good looking with that 
cut in your earlobe. 

HOMER 

[Puts his hand instinctively to his ear. The cut 
is not visible.'] 

No one notices it ! 

CLARA 

I see nothing else. I've seen nothing else for 
years! 

HOMER 

[Rudely'] Haven't you? Well, I haven't seen 
anything but your protruding tooth ! 

CLARA 

[Whose protruding tooth is not visible, puts her 
hand quickly to her mouth.'] 

I had an admirer once who was fascinated 
by it! 

HOMER 

It's too bad he didn't let it captivate him for 
life! 

CLARA 

Oh! you beast! 

[She stops short as Annie parts portieres back 
centre and ushers m Dr. Jimmie Pirie, a good look- 
ing doctor.] 

ANNIE 
Dr. Pirie. 

[ 99 ] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 
[Attitude changing for company] Hello, doc! 

CLARA 

[Attitude changing for company] Good after- 
noon, Dr. Pirie. 

JIMMIE 

Mrs. Whitney Mr. Whitney. Which is my 
patient ? 

CLARA 
I called you for Lottie. 

HOMER 
She had fever again. 

JIMMIE 

Another scare? She usually cools down before 
I get here. 

CLARA 

I'll send her in. She wouldn't go back to bed 
and I was afraid of exciting her too much by 
insisting. 

[Exit centre."] 

JIMMIE 

Let me see her alone. She'll be less self- 
conscious. 

HOMER 

If you think her mother ought to go away with 
her into a different climate, don't be afraid to 
suggest it. I'll send them gladly. 

JIMMIE 
Oh! Would you? 

[ 100 ] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 

I'd miss them of course Oh yes, [he has an- 
other idea at the back of his head} but if you 
think that's the prescription don't consider me. 

JIMMIE 

Right-O! 

[Lottie enters back centre. She is about twelve 
years old and adorable in every way. She gives a 
quick old-age guarded look at her -father (this 
little glance is almost habitual with her), and then 
approaches Jimmie with all the sweetness of child- 
hood.'} 

LOTTIE 

Oh ! Doctor Jimmie ! 

JIMMIE 
Hello! Lottie! 
[Homer goes out centre.} 

LOTTIE 
Mother said you came to call on me! 

JIMMIE 

Right-O! when a cavalier calls on a lady he's 
offered the most comfortable chair and asked to 
sit. 

LOTTIE 

[Laughing} But what's the lady going to do 
when there aren't any comfortable chairs? 

JIMMIE 
Not that green one? 

[101 ] 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 
Try it! 

JlMMIE 

[Does and sinks down uncomfortably.] It kinks 
my spine! 

LOTTIE 

[Laughs'] I don't like our house furnishing 
mudh. Mother says there isn't a cozy corner any- 
where, but father said we had to leave it to the 
decorator. Father says he must have things proper 
so I guess we are. Have a lemon drop ? 

[She offers one she has been holding m her left 
hand.} 

Do you mind if it's sticky ? 

JIMMIE 
No, thanks! And don't take it yourself. 

LOTTIE 

I've only one. It wouldn't be polite for me to 
take it myself. 

JIMMIE 

[Laughs'] Don't you know you have germs on 
your palm? 

[He takes out his handkerchief to wipe her 
sticky palm and while so distracting her attention, 
slips his -finger to her pulse to count it.'] 

LOTTIE 

A gypsy told me I had my future in my palm. 
Is that a germ,? 

JIMMIE 

[Teasmgly"} Well I guess the germs that are 
[ 102 ] 



THE BUFFER 

there now might have something to do in determin- 
ing your future. Got a lemon drop on your 
tongue ? 

LOTTIE 
No. 

JlMMIE 

Oh! go on, yes you have! 

LOTTIE 
No, I haven't! 

JlMMIE 

I bet you have! 

LOTTIE 

Oh ! you're smartie Doctor Jimmie ! There ! 
[She puts out her tongue.^ 
I haven't! 

JIMMIE 

No you haven*t. [Bows low.~\ I crave your 
pardon, your majesty. I am your most humble 
servant. You are in the best of condition ! 
[He looks puzzled.^ 

LOTTIE 
[After a pause~\ What is it? 

JIMMIE 

[Puzzled'] Whew! Yes! Well I Oh! by the 
way I forgot I brought you something ! 

LOTTIE 
For me? 

JIMMIE 
Just outside the door! Seekers shall find! 

[ 103 ] 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 
Oh! [She dashes out centre.] 

JIMMIE 

[Walks up and down puzzled.'] Strange. Pulse 
all right tongue 

\_He takes out his thermometer slips it back 
again.] 

LOTTIE 

[Returns with a basket, her eyes aglow with 
curiosity.] Shall I open it? 

JIMMIE 
Don't get scared ! 

LOTTIE 
[Hushed voiced] What is it? 

JIMMIE 
[Whispers] Elephant! 

LOTTIE 

[Opens basket and cries with delight as she 
pulls out an adorably ugly bull pup.] Bull pup! 
Bull pup! Oh! you ugly darling! Oh! you dar- 
ling! darling! 

\_Slie hugs it to her most affectionately.] 
Oh ! look at his teeth ! Oh ! isn't he ugly ? Look 
at his cunning feet ! Oh ! you darling ! I'm going 
to call you Jimmie! 

JIMMIE 

[Watches her and is pleased.] 
[ 104] 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 

[Realizing at last that thanks are due him] 
You're so good to me ! I'll kiss you ! 

JIMMIE 

[Accepts her kiss on his cheek in his best "uncle" 
manner.] If that's my reward I'll bring you his 
brother next time. 

LOTTIE 

You know, sometimes, I think you buy pups and 
toys for me because you'd like to have them your- 
self only you're ashamed to be not grown up. 

JIMMIE 

Let me whisper in your ear. They think I'm 
grown up, they treat me with a lot of respect, but 
you've got the secret ; I'm a kid ! 

LOTTIE 

Well, sometime when you can't help buying will 
you give something to Angela next door instead 
of to me? She's kind of jealous. 

JIMMIE 

You bet I will ! I'll buy two things and give one 
to you ! 

LOTTIE 

Oh! no! you mustn't do that! You see if I got 
something too, it wouldn't give her a chance to 
make me jealous. I wouldn't really be jealous but 
I'd pretend to be just to make her feel happy! 

JIMMIE 

So if it makes her happy to try to make you 
[105 ] 




THE BUFFER 

unihapp y, you'd rather pretend to be unhappy than 
not to make her happy. 

LOTTIE 

[Looking at him wonderingly and not quite 
understanding} How fast you talk! If people 
were happy they wouldn't be mean or cross or 
angry, things would be lots better, wouldn't they? 

JIMMIE 
Lots better. 

LOTTIE 
Then it's wrong to be unhappy ! 

JIMMIE 
Most decidedly wrong! 

LOTTIE 
Are people sick when they're unhappy? 

JIMMIE 
Yes, indeed! 

LOTTIE 
And >are they well when they're happy? 

JIMMIE 
Pretty much! 

LOTTIE 

Then if all the world were happy nobody' d be 
sick ? 

JIMMIE 
And where would I get my money from? 

LOTTIE 

\_Gravely'] Your money isn't half as important 
as the world's being happy ! 

[ 106 ] 



THE BUFFER 

JlMMIE 

[Takes out a cigarette. Offers her one.~\ Have 
a cigarette? 

[She looks at him amazed. Jimmie laughs.] 
Excuse me ! Have this then ! 
[He offers a thermometer.] 

LOTTIE 

How you tease! 
[She "smokes" the thermometer cockily.~] 

JIMMIE 

[Goes on talking to make her forget length of 
time she is holding thermometer.] Once upon a 
time there lived a Prince* who had been disappointed 
in the Princess he had chosen to marry. She mar- 
ried a king! And the Prince to forget his grief 
and the little children that were not to be born to 
him turned to the flowers in his garden for com- 
fort. And soon the flowers seemed to show him 
little faces, as if they were children and he cafed 
for them. Gave them good ground to grow in, 
rooted out the weeds, tended them for strong, long 
lives. One little flower he loved most of all ! 

LOTTIE 

[Takes thermometer out of her mouth.] Poor 
Prince ! Pd love him if it would make him happy. 
[Goes to give pup the thermometer.] 
Here, Jimmie, have a puff ! 

JIMMIE 

[Seizes thermometer to save it.] Here, here! 
[He glances at it and puts it back into his case.] 
[ 107 ] 



THE BUFFER 

No place here to sterilize it! There's nothing 
wrong with you, kiddie! Feeling tip-top, aren't 
you? How do you sleep? 

LOTTIE 

[Eyes him suspiciously] You're not going to 
give me castor oil? 

JIMMIE 
[Laughs] Not this time! 

LOTTIE 

[Looks about anxiously and comes closer] Dr. 
Jimmie, I dont think mother's awfully well. 
[Whispers] Don't let her think you're watching 
her! But you give her something. She's she's 
nervous. The city doesn't agree with her. She's 
always better and fatter when we're travelling. 
She and I always have lots of fun when we're away 
together! Couldn't you send us away? 

JIMMIE 
California ? 

LOTTIE 

[Claps hands'] Oh ! yes ! Watch father too. He 
needs medicine too. You know I love him awfully 
much but [confidentially] he's cross because he's 
sick. Sch! 

[She stops short as Mrs. Whitney enters.] 
Look at the pup Dr. Jimmie gave me ! 

CLARA 

You are very kind, doctor. 
[ 108 ] 



THE BUFFER 

JiMMIE 

Amusing myself. 

CLARA 
Well? 

JlMMIE 

Would you care to take a trip, Oh! say to 
California ? 

LOTTIE 
[Claps hands] Oh yes, yes ! 

CLARA 

[Delighted] You think we must go away, Lottie 
and I? 

JlMMIE 

A change of climate would do you boifti good. 

LOTTIE 

[Hugging dog] I'll take "Jimmie" with me! 
Oh ! I must show him to Annie. 
[Hurries out right.] 



JIMMIE 

[7* glad that Lottie leaves them and approaches 
Mrs. Whitney m a more intimate manner.] 

And how are you? It is always a headache. 
What is the cause? 

CLARA 

[Pretending to banter] That is your headache, 
doctor. 

JIMMIE 
Of course crying smarts the eyes. 

[109 ] 



THE BUFFER 

CLARA 

[Trying to change subject} How about Lottie? 
What do you 

JIMMIE 

Lottie's all right. I'm worried about you. In- 
stead of putting out your tongue, will you smile 
for me ? 

CLARA 
[Embarrassed, smiles] To order? 

JIMMIE 

[Pleased] Ittiat's it! You're very pretty when 
you smile. 

CLARA 
\_As if hurt] Once I was ! 

JIMMIE 
Now. 

CLARA 

[Shakes her head, tears come to her eyes. She 
does not want to let him see she is near crying and 
therefore does not take out her handkerchief.} 

JIMMIE 

[Wiping her eyes with his handkerchief] I 
know some people love to be miserable, that's why 
they stay miserable so long ! Why don't you love 
him? 

CLARA 
[Staggered] Oh! Oh! - 



lMMin 

Come now, confess ! He seems all right. I like 
[110 ] 



THE BUFFER 

him. What is it ? I must know. I can't prescribe 
for you unless I do. You must tell me! You 
must. 

[His use of authority pleases Tier. She responds 
to every word he saysJ] 

Come, come ; what am I a doctor for if you can't 
tell me? Hate him? 

CLARA 
[Nods her head.] 

JIMMIE 
How mudh? 

CLARA 
\_Shwers.~] 

JIMMIE 
Ever been cruel to you? 

CLARA 
Only mentally. 

JIMMIE 
Rather good sort, generally speaking? 

CLARA 
Yes. 

JIMMIE 
But not for you. 

CLARA 
[Shivers'] Every nerve shrinks. 

JIMMIE 

Constant association between antagonistic ele- 
ments ! And you stand it because of 

[ in ] 



THE BUFFER 

CLARA 
Lottie. 

JlMMIE 

Yes. Well, I suppose that's not a point to argue, 
and you would reject my remedy. 

CLARA 
Whlat do you advise ? 

JIMMIE 
The knife. 

CLARA 
[Starting'] Operation! 

JIMMIE 
The clean cut wound of divorce ! 

CLARA 
Never ! 

JIMMIE 
Better than an open sore. 

CLARA 
[Proudly] I am still strong enough to endure. 

JIMMIE 

You don't know how ill you are because you 
don't know how well you could be. Most of us 
never reach our best capacity. 

CLARA 

[Sadly] You are young, doctor, and full of 
energy. 

JIMMIE 
I'm older than you 38 to your 35 the reason 



THE BUFFER 

I look younger and feel younger is because I've 
never been crushed in matrimony. 

CLARA 

Have you never met any one you wanted to 
marry ? 

JIMMIE 

[Tenderly to her] I have wanted very hard to 
bring smiles back into your eyes. 

CLARA 

[Smiles with a flash of joy and stifles a gasp 
of surprise.] 

JIMMIE 

Where you believe in outworn laws, man-made 
rules I dispense with priest and State and go 
direct to the fountain head. I need no middleman 
to link me with God. 

CLARA 
[Shocked but admiringly] Atheist! 

JIMMIE 

I like to shock your mind, anything to break 
this deadly monotonous life of yours. I am an 
explorer. Your nature is rich in possibilities. 

CLARA 
[Fascinated] Is it? Is it really? 

JIMMIE 

[Looking at her steadily] There, that's the 
spirit I want to see grow in you! By Jove you 
must have the book I finished reading this morn- 

[ 



THE BUFFER 

ing. It's a stirring plea for individualism. I'll 
go home now and get it for you. 

CLARA 
[Eagerly] Will you come back? 

JIMMIE 
On fifth speed [Starts out.] 

CLARA 
[Worried] But how about Lottie 

JIMMIE 

Oh! Lottie's all right! It's you I'm worrying 
about. 

[Exit centre. ~] 

[He has dropped a glove. Clara picks it up 
quickly and thrilled to have it, hides it in her dress 
and hurries out right.] 

[Mrs. Mathews enters centre. She is a good 
looking widow and fashionably dressed. She 
makes a careful entrance and is relieved and 
pleased when Mr. Whitney enters from left.] 

HOMER 
Paula 

PAULA 
The doctor let me in as he was going out. 

HOMER 
I was hoping all afternoon that you would come. 

PAULA 
I couldn't stay away. 

[114 ] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 

Paula, tell me, does that annoy you? 
[Points to Ills ear.~] 

PAULA 

Does what annoy me? 
[She touches his ear.~\ 

HOMER 
That cut in the earlobe, don't you hate it? 

PAULA 
I never noticed it. 

HOMER 
That's queer. 

PAULA 

That I love you? 

HOMER 
She hates this. 

PAULA 
Oh. 

HOMER 
You're sure you don't hate it, Paula? 

PAULA 

[Laughs'] Boy ! Mother's little boy ! Must be 
petted, must be told he's handsome. Oh, Homer, 
my love isn't weighed so lightly. Are there about 
me features you dislike ? 

HOMER 

[Rises'] You know that I 
[He goes as if to embrace her but controls him- 

[ "5 ] 



THE BUFFER 

self. They both stand a moment with eyes closed, 
trying to steady their emotions. She weaHy -finds 
her way to a chair and sinks into it.'] 

PAULA 

[With subdued emotion] I must remember 
Lottie, I must remember Lottie. 

HOMER 
Forgive me. 

PAULA 

[Simply~\ There is nothing to forgive. I 
wanted to be taken into your arms just as much as 
you wanted to have me. 

HOMER 
Can you suffer as much as I? 

PAULA 

More, more! I have the agony too, of watch- 
ing from my window how you come out of this 
house in the morning and go into it at night and I 
see you with your head bowed. There is no vitality 
in your step, no joy. You are a man only half 
alive ! 

HOMER 
I am caughlt in the tangles I made for myself. 

PAULA 

Surely, surely there is wrong in circumstances 
that cripple the soul. The sun was made for us 
all! It cannot be right, it is not right that you 
live in shadow ! 

[ "6] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 
Show me a clean way to the sun, Paula. 

PAULA 

7 could bring out what is best in you ! You are 
crippled here ! This house under tihese conditions, 
do not let you be the man you really are. Oh, 
sometimes it is unbearable ! 

HOMER 

[Kindly] Tell me, Paula do you ever think of 
him and forget me ? 

PAULA 

[Simply] I loved him when he married me 
later we grew apart. When he died we were al- 
most strangers. I am not a widow at heart, Homer. 
If you were free I could be young again. Oh ! 
Mrs. Whitney 

CLARA 

[Enters from right] Good afternoon Mrs. 
Mathews. Pm glad to see you. 

PAULA 

[Explaining her presence] I came over expressly 
to invite you to a luncheon I'm planning to have 
in two weeks. That big, old house of mine is 
yearning for company again. [Sits.] 

CLARA 

[Sits] I doubt if I shall be here, that is, if Mr. 
Whitney permits me to follow the doctor's instruc- 
tions and take Lottie to California. The doctor 
wants us to go away, Homer. 

[in] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 

You know very well, Clara that I am always 
ready to do all I can. He is a very excellent 
doctor. [*Sifa.] 

CLARA 
I thought we'd leave soon ? 

PAULA 

[Kindly] Who is going to one-step with your 
husband while you are away? 

CLARA 
[Kindly] I leave him to your kindness. 

PAULA 

Ah! but I can't be risking my reputation by 
being seen too often with another woman's hus- 
band. Remember how widows are watched! 

CLARA 

[Laughmg and without suspicion] Aren't you 
safe ? 

[There is an unexpected pause. Homer grows 
anxious, Clara looks puzzled.] 

PAULA 

[Rises.] [Soberly] No. 
[Homer and Clara look at Paula.] 

CLARA 
[Rises] No? 

PAULA 

I love your husband. 

[Homer and Clara, shocked by surprise at her 
daring, do not know what to say. Paula continues 

[118 ] 



THE BUFFER 

as if it were an effort] It is safer for me if you do 
not go. 

[There is a pause.] 

CLARA 
And he cares for you? 

PAULA 
How can / answer that? 

CLARA 
[Looks at Homer] You? 

HOMER 
Yes. 

CLARA 
[Puzzled] You actually love him? 

PAULA 
Yes. 

CLARA 
[Shudders] For how long? 

PAULA 

A year, since I met both of you at the Raleigh 
dinner. 

CLARA 
[To Homer] How did it start? 

HOMER 
I drank too much that night 

CLARA 
[Bitterly] As usual. 

HOMER 

[Bitterly] I drink to forget 
[119] 



THE BUFFER 

PAULA 

[Defendingly] He would never have started 
[But she stops, embarrassed by Clara's resentful 
eyes.} 

CLARA 
Go on. 

HOMER 

I drank too much that night and talked too 
much 

CLARA 

[Resenting] Publishing aloud the secrets of our" 
life! 

PAULA 
Fortunately to me! 

CLARA 

[Shudders'] Oh ! to have him talk about us 
about me ! Is it not enough 

PAULA 

[Interrupting] It has remained my secret. But 
"having once heard there arose between us sym- 
pathy and friendship. 

CLARA 
[Coldly} How far? 

PAULA 

[Rises, tense] Not far. 

HOMER 
[Tensely] That you must believe. 

CLARA 

[Shrugs her shoulders} I'm glad you've told me. 
[ 120 ] 



THE BUFFER 

I like honesty. I'm sorry for you both. Come as 
often as you like, Paula, I may call you Paula, 
now, may I not? I'd better, at any rate, to save 
appearances. For we must save appearances. Be 
careful of appearances while I am away. [She 
breathes freely'] It's rather good news. I'm re- 
lieved. Now that Homer has the truth off his 
chest he may be more comfortable to have around 
the house. Shall I ring for some wine to celebrate? 

HOMER 
[Relieved] That's bully of you, Clara 

CLARA 
I never suspected it. 

HOMER 
I was afraid you'd raise an awful row. 

PAULA 

[Prevents Clara -from ringing bell for maidJ] 

[Paula is torn with emotion.'] 

One moment ! How can you stand tihere, both of 
you, talking in ice-cold tones! Wine to celebrate 
What? The telling of the truth? Our talk has 
just begun ! What are you going to do now? 

CLARA 
Do? 

HOMER 
Now? 

PAULA 

[To Clara] You are lenient, but with me it 
must be all or nothing. I have suffered tortures 
tMs past year. You must divorce him! 
[ 121 ] 



THE BUFFER 

CLARA 
I cannot divorce him. 

PAULA 
Is there no legal cause? 

CLARA 
I have a child. 

PAULA 

That is no answer. 

CLARA 
It is the answer. 

PAULA 
You don't want him, do you? 

CLARA 
[Shivers'] No. 

PAULA 

Look at him, getting gray before his time, look 
at yourself, aging as rapidly. Look at me fight- 
ing to keep youth! If the three of us could ex- 
press joy 

CLARA 
Our duty is of more importance than our joy. 

PAULA 

What is your duty? Giving him happiness? 
Giving me happiness? Giving yourself happi- 
ness? Or sacrificing us all for Lottie? 

CLARA 
[Pushes her off as if unable to keep her self 



THE BUFFER 

control] If I suffer it does not count in the scheme 
of things! I am a mother! That's all I amount 
to in eternity! 

PAULA 

\_In despair^ Homer, have you nothing to say? 
Can you stand by without a word to help me? 

HOMER 

[Tenderly'] Dear Paula, I, too, feel my re- 
sponsibility. It is the one thing upon which Clara 
and I agree. 

PAULA 

You've said so and yet I've always felt you 
could not mean it, really, if it came to the point, 
[She sways a little.] Then you do not care enough 
for me! [Passionately] If you cared enough you'd 
break any bond ! 

HOMER 

[Kindly] You wouldn't want me to be weak even 
for love. 

PAULA 

[Pause of suffering] Then I must go. [She 
holds out her hand to him.] 

HOMER 

[Not taking it] No, no ! we can see each other. 
Clara will permit it 

PAULA 

[In scorn, as she drops her hand] Is there honor 
in tihat? And what will it lead to? I haven't been 
crush a desire to live as you two have done ! 



THE BUFFER 

I resent abnormal conditions ! I won't stupefy my 
abilities by perverted reasoning! We are a long 
time dead while we are here we are here to live 
and if we shun living we are nothing but cowards 
[To Clara] You are afraid to throw off your 
shackles [To Homer] You do not dare be your- 
self ! You don't know how to love ! 

HOMER 

[Stirred] You want only your own happiness. 
I am annihilating mine for Lottie ! 

CLARA 

[Stirred] You don't understand the suffocation 
of sacrifice! 

PAULA 

[Emotionally moved] I understand it only too 
well. I am beating my hands against the ab- 
surdity of it! and it's a stone wall bruising me! 
You are stone! stone! 

[Her clenched hands express rebellion but 
she goes out in despair.] 

HOMER 
Paula ! 

CLARA 

[Standing in his way] Don't go! She'll find 
her way out. 

HOMER 
She should have been my wife. 

CLARA 
I don't doubt she ought to be. 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 
Curse your evil mind ! That's wretched slander ! 

CLARA 
How do I know? 

LOTTIE 
[Appears in doorway right] Mother! Father! 

HOMER 
Go upstairs Lottie 

LOTTIE 

Don't begin it again! [In "half whisper which 
they are too excited to notice.] 

CLARA 
[To Homer] How do I know? 

HOMER 
It is outrageous of you even to imagine 

LOTTIE 

[Sidesteps, as if to guard her mother against 
her father] Father says things he doesn't mean 
when he's excited. 

HOMER 

[Ignoring Lottie] If you had any wits and 
weren't a dull old woman you might 

CLARA 

Who's broken my life, who's beaten me into what 
I am who's 

LOTTIE 
[Sidesteps as if to guard her father against her 

[ 125 ] 



THE BUFFER 

mother] Oh! you mustn't say that! Father's 
never hit you never never 

HOMER 
You'll drive me to it some day. 

LOTTIE 
[Scared] Oh! no! 

CLARA 
I've suffered enough to know 

LOTTIE 

But he's never hit you O please mother don't 
say hard things. Oh please father don't say 

HOMER 

[Ignores Lottie, goes as if to strike Clara, but 
restrains himself and only -flings her aside and goes 
out left.] 

LOTTIE 

Motiher, what is it? What can I do? What 
does father want? Why is he angry with you 
again? Did you forget again? Is it because you 
have on the brown dress he doesn't like? Is it 
wrong to like bright colors? We like red and 
pink I don't want to be rude, mother dear but 
I think you look prettier too in other dresses 
don't you think he'd feel better if you tried some- 
times to wear what he likes and 

CLARA 

When I've done everything for you, Lottie to 
think that you can turn against me, your own 
mother. 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 
[In tears'] But I'm not turning against you ! 

CLAEA 

[Pushing Lottie away] It's in your heart, in 
your thoughts, no, go away, I'm too hurt 

LOTTIE 

[In terrified anguish] Mother, I love you, I love 
you ! You don't understand. 

CLAEA 

I understand perfectly well ! 
[She coldly turns and goes out right.] 

LOTTIE 

Mother, mother, please mother! I didn't mean 
anything ! 

[She weeps bitterly, unable to grasp the turn of 
events, feeling desolate, abandoned, misunderstood. 
Finally one consolation seems to be left. She throws 
herself upon her knees in weeping prayer.] 

Our Father who art in Heaven, I have hurt my 
darling mother; oh, please make my mother love 
me again. Oh, please show her how to love me 
again ! My mother and my father don't love each 
other any more. I try to help them; I try, but I 
don't know what to do. Nothing helps. Oh, look 
down upon us and show us tihe way ! Oh, I'll be so 
good, I'll never break any of Thy commandments ; 
I'll give to the poor everything I can save, if only 
you make my father and my mother love each other 
again. Oh, be merciful ; be merci 

[She sobs to exhaustion.] 
[ 127 ] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 

[Enters from left. Tenderly'] Who's crying? 
What's the matter? 

LOTTIE 
[Rushes to "him] Oh, please love mother again ! 

HOMER 

[Kindly] Look here, Lottie, thatls none of 
your business ! 

LOTTIE 

Please get rid of this terrible thing that hurts 
us! 

HOMER 

So you're at it, too, are you? Some of her con- 
founded meddling! Poisoning my own daughter's 
mind against me ! 

LOTTIE 

But, father, you don't understand; I don't want 
to hurt you, I love you ; I 

HOMER 

I will not have my child sitting in judgment upon 
me ! I won't have it ! 

LOTTIE 

But because I love you, I do love you so, I don't 
know how to say it, but I 

HOMER 

She is poisoning your mind, your mind against 

me. Ruining your disposition. Stubbornness! 

Stubbornness ! I won't have it ! I won't have it ! 

[He brushes Lottie aside and goes out centre.] 

[ 128 ] 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 

[Remains dazed, like a beaten little animal un- 
able to understand the world of grown-ups in 
which it lives.] 

ANNIE 
[Enters from right] Fighting again? 

LOTTIE 
[Does not answer.] 

ANNIE 

[Kindly] Oh ! you won't tell me. You're a little 
old woman! Gee, but I'm sorry for some of you 
kids. I seen a lot like you in other houses. 

LOTTIE 

[Hot with excitement, despair, hurt pride.] 
You mustn't talk like that, Annie. 

ANNIE 

[Amused] Do you think cook and Lawson and 
M'ary and Tim and me don't see what's going on? 
Huh ! When there's cat and dog upstairs, there's 
h 11 all along the line ! 

LOTTIE 
[Hysterical] Annie! That isn't nice! 

ANNIE 

I bet you get a fever now Oh! Dr. Jimmie, 
you can catch it now she's as hot as fire 

JIMMIE 

[Enters centre, throws booJc on table, feels 
Lottie's head] By Jove we have caught it this 
time. You're going straight to bed. 
[ 129 ] 



THE BUFFER 

LOTTIE 

[Throws herself at him as if in need of protec- 
tion} Oh! Dr. Jimmie take me away! take me 
away! [Clinging to Mm} I can't stand it any 
more I can't stand it ! 

JIMMIE 
[Frightened] My child! 

LOTTIE 

I wanted to run away. I didn't know where. 
You've come just in time 

JIMMIE 
To bed you'll go ! 

LOTTIE 
No, no no ! 

JIMMIE 
Come, come, Lottie you're talking nonsense. 

LOTTIE 

Oh ! please, take me away. They don't love me 
they don't 

JIMMIE 

When we have fever we say things we don't 
mean. Now I'll carry you upstairs and put you 
to bed and tell you stories and [He picks her 
up gently and firmly and starts to door, centre J} 

LOTTIE 

[Screams piercingly and fights him like a little 
tigress"} Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! 

[Clara and Homer hurry in from right and 
centra.'] 

[ 130 ] 



THE BUFFER 

CLARA and HOMER 
Lottie! Lottie! 

LOTTIE 

[To Jimmie] No, they don't love me any more! 
I feel it ! I feel it all here [she writhes and puts 
her hand to the nape of her neck where nerves get 
congested] and it hurts so ! I cry all night long 
and I pray, but it doesn't help. They hate each 
other. I can't remember it's ever being different. 
Once s'he wouldn't talk for three days and he got 
so angry he threw a chair at her. 

CLARA 
[Surprised] She can't know that 

LOTTIE 
Oh! yes I do 

HOMER 
[Surprised] Why, s'he was only four 

LOTTIE 

[Hysterically] Oh! I remember! The chair hit 
a glass bowl and smashed it and mother cried be- 
cause it wias a wedding present and she cried all 
night. I knocked on her door and begged her to 
let me in, but she wouldn't let me in. And nurse 
put me to bed but I didn't sleep ! I was frightened. 
I loved them both. I love them both, but I hate 
them when they're together. Take me away, Dr. 
Jimmie I can't stand it when they're together! 
I can't stand it! Please take me away! [Cries 
bitterly.] 



THE BUFFER 

HOMER 
[Groans'] You want to leave us, Lottie? 

CLARA 
You're not happy Lottie? 

LOTTIE 
Let me go ! Let me go ! 

JIMMIE 
She's raving! 

LOTTIE 
I won't be put to bed I won't I won't I 

HOMER 
Stop screaming, Lottie my dear 

CLARA 
My darling ! 

LOTTIE 

Go away! You don't love me any more. You 
hate each other! You hate each other! 

CLARA, HOMER and JIMMIE 
Lottie! 

LOTTIE 

[Hysterically] They bate each other; Mother 
loves me when I'm with her and father loves me 
when I'm with him, but when they're both together 
they don't love me ! Oh, take me away Dr. Jim- 
mie 'take me away. [Clings to him desperately.] 



THE BUFFER 

CLAEA and HOMER 
Lottie! 

LOTTIE 

[Continuing^ Oh, please Dr. Jimmie, make them 
happy for my sake ; make them HAPPY for MY 
sake! 

CURTAIN 



[ 133 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

A ONE-ACT PLAY 



CHARACTER 

GRACE, the wife who loves him 

First production at Grace Hickox Studios. 
COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



"ATTUNED" 

SCENE : Grace^s room. Grace in a negligee of 
soft blue is discovered at her writing-table, down 
left, busily writing. The room is dark save for the 
lamp on the table. 

GRACE 

[Reading what she has written] My dear, dear 
Tom, dear beloved husband that's three dears 
but I could write thousands, one for every mile 
that separates us. Are you cold this chill autumn 
night ? Are you in a front trench to-night ? [She 
rises to get his photograph, to look at it long and 
earnestly as if expecting the photograph to 
speak.] 

Where are you to-night, dear? Can't you tell 
me? I feel so 'alone without you and yet, some- 
times at night before I go to sleep I feel as if I 
could put my hand out and touch you. The power 
of our love carries tacross land and sea. I love you, 
Tom, with a love as limitless as the sky of Heaven. 
Our love has been like the magnet and the needle, 
and our harmony complete. [She walks about.] 

If I listen very quietly and think of you way 
over there fighting, in danger, but brave, I feel 
sometimes as if I really heard you talking to me 
as if by mental wireless. If two instruments can 
be so attuned to transmit messages through space 
[137 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

surely two souls could be as powerful yes, it 
must be so. [She goes back to the letter and 
writes.'] 

You must have been thinking of me all day or 
rather what is my day was your last night. It is 
day with you now 'all your night, then, you have 
thought of me all my day I have felt your eyes 
following me, sending me beautiful thoughts of 
love I found myself smiling mother asked me 
what about I couldn't tell I really didn't know 
but of course it must have been your love like 
rays of sunshine blessing me why did you think 
of me all last night [She stops writing and 
asks demandmgly.} 

Tom, why did you think of me all last night? 
[She rises.} 

Answer me! Were you a sentry on duty not 
allowed to sleep? Did you have to think of me to 
keep yourself awake? Can't you hear me ask you 
that question ? Answer me ! He does not answer ! 
He is not thinking of me [She is disappointed 
and begins to puzzle the answer for herself.} 

Were you wounded or perhaps in pain or 
[she is afraid of her next thought} or did they tell 
you, you were to go over the top to-day? No, no, 
I must not imagine things I must keep myself 
calm, and wise and brave [She goes back to her 
writing.} 

I am not the only one missing my beloved there 

are thousand's of others missing theirs I should 

have had a letter from you to-day your last 

special delivery letter woke the whole household up 

[ 138 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

at midnight it is so strange to be living at home 
again when I think of our little apartment and 
how happy we were 

[She goes on writing. While she is writing a 
part of the back drop opens revealing Tom in uni- 
form on a distant battle-field. There is the sound 
of distant rumbling of artiUery and all the noise 
of battle intensified by red flashes, flare-lights, 
smoke and so forth. Tom pantomimes a charge 
forward and falls mortally wounded. The back 
drop closes silently. Grace has neither seen nor 
heard the action at back, but now she starts up 
staring straight ahead with horror-stricken eyes, 
and shrieks.'] 

GRACE 

Tom ! Tom ! He's dead! [She revolts at the 
idea.~\ 

No ! No ! It's not true ! Not so soon ! He's 
only been over a few months ! You couldn't take him 
from me so soon ! You have no right to take him 
so soon ! What do / care what they're fighting for" 
over there they've no right to come into my house 
and rob me of all that life was worth living for! 
The sacrifice asked of me is too great. You have 
taken my husband from me! But I defy you, I 
defy the injustice of it! [She begins to wtttJ\ 

But it is true. I know it. He called to me. 
He is dead. Oh, Tom, you were so young and 
strong; I am so young. There will be so many 
years for me to miss you. Never to see you again. 
So many years for me alone Oh, the long bitter 
nights the endless days I shall never be happy 
[139 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

again I shall never smile again the light has 
left my life forever ! 

\_A mystical light appears and slowly Grace be- 
comes conscious of a presence.] 

GRACE 

[Very slowly comes to a realization of her feel- 
ing and whispers in an awed voice.] Tom no, 
dear, I am not afraid if it's really you. Oh, can 
it be true? you're not really gone forever what, 
dear? I can't understand what you are trying to 
tell me yes, I'll listen but I can't help the beat- 
ing of my heart I'll try to be calm and very still 
I suppose it is simple if one understands, but I 
can't understand you very well. 

I see a strange light, I feel your personality 
but it is so strange not to be able to touch you 
Yes, I'll come closer I am not afraid it's won- 
derful to know that you are near Oh, I wish I 
were dead, too it would be so much easier for both 
of us 

It is not my time yet? How long must I wait? 
There are reasons why I should stay on earth and 
suffer it is part of the great scheme for the 
progress of my soul? 

I bhall weep the rest of my life 'but I cannot 
help weeping you -are dead on a battlefield thou- 
sands of miles away yes, I know, but I miss your 
arms about me what could be greater than the 
love of your spirit guiding me ? yes, that's true 
the soul has bridged time and distance and come 
straight to me yet I shall weep for the warmth 
[ 140 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

of your arms and for the dear body so cold on 
the battlefield [She starts.] 

Did you say it was a joke? What is a joke? 
A Divine jest? That all the fire and steel of war 
cannot really kill? That war cannot kill? The 
soul rises triumphant? Everyone weeps for your 
loss and you aren't lost? The soul is deathless 
and eternal? But if war does not kill, why do we 
have war? To what? I didn't understand you 
Oh, it is only a game to test souls to evolve great 
principles you don't mind having given up your 
body for them? They count so much in the great 
Answer? 

But it is so hard to be patient I can't help 
crying why is it selfish and cruel to you if I cry ? 
my crying is a magnet of sadness that weighs 
upon you and holds you back but why do you 
want to leave me It's a fascinating country 
there with amazingly interesting things? no, 
you didn't say things, I don't understand your 
language like what Oh, yes, revealed truths and 
beautiful thoughts and marvelous minds to teach 
you but if I try to smile and be happy and not 
keep you by making you sad, will you promise to 
wait there for me? Will you help me through 
when it is my time to come ? There is a wonderful 
garden beyond with flowers like blossoms of knowl- 
edge Oh, Death, then, must be very beautiful! 
Yes, dear I am listening I shall be very lonely 
but I understand >and my heart is at peace 
your love has spoken to me your love is the voice 
of your soul in eternity. I shall be brave, Tom, 
[141 ] 



"ATTUNED" 

I shall not weep ! I shall let you go ahead a little 
yes, dear, good-bye not good-bye? then just 
good-night 

[The light vanishes. There is a loud knocking 
at the door. A man's voice off stage down left 
calls "Grace."] 

GRACE 

Yes, father [She goes to the door quickly, 
opens it, receives a letter.] 

VOICE 

Another special delivery from Tom, I guess 
they always get me out of bed and I'm so sleepy. 

GRACE 

[Closes door, tears letter open and reads] "To- 
morrow we go to the front again. I feel it is my 
last stay in the trenches. Perhaps by the time you 
receive this it will be over but I am convinced that 
the soul survives the destruction of the body and 
if it does I shall come straight to you ." 

CURTAIN 



THE POT BOILER 

A ONE ACT SATIRE 



THE POT BOILER 

CAST 

THOMAS PINIKLES SUD, the author 

HAROLD WOULDBY, the novice 

MR. IVORY, the father 

MR. RULER, the hero 

Miss IVORY, the heroine 

MR. INKWELL, the villain 

MRS. PENCIL, the vampire 



First production at the Player's Workshop, East 57th 
Street, Chicago, November 20, 1916. Direction Elizabeth 
Bingham. Later produced by the Theatre Workshop, New 
York; Arthur Maitland Theatre, San Francisco; Holly- 
wood Community Theatre, Hollywood, California; in the 
cantonments of the United States, in a trench in France, 
in Hawaii, in vaudeville, etc. Published by Stewart & 
Kidd Co. in a volume of "Fifty Contemporary One Act 
Plays" of the world, compiled by Shay and Loving. In 
vaudeville the play was shortened to five players, Sud 
assumed the part of Ivory himself and addressed his re- 
marks to the audience instead of to Wouldby. 

COPYRIGHTED, 1916, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



THE POT BOILER 

SCENE: A stage only half set for a morning 
rehearsal and dimly lighted. 

SUD 

[A successful playwright, enters in a hurry 
carrying a leather bag full of manuscripts.] 

STAGEHAND 
[Off stage] Good morning, Mr. Sud. 

SUD 

Good morning, Gus. Just set two doors, that'll 
be all I'll need this morning. We're rehearsing for 
lines. [Steps down stage and calls front.] Joe, 
I'm expecting a young man; it's all right, let 
him in. 

WOULDBY 

[From auditorium, back] I'm here now, Mr. Sud. 

SUD 

Come up, Mr. Wouldby. Some more border 
lights, please. 

WOULDBY 
It's very good of you to let me in. 

SUD 

I was fond of your fatfher. I am glad to see his 
son. 

[145 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

WOULDBY 

I have written a play, too. 

SUD 

Too bad, too bad, you make the price of paper 
go up. 

WOULDBY 

It must be wonderful to be the master play- 
wright of our day. Everybody knows Mr. Thomas 
Pinikles Sud. 

SUD 

[Setting stage] Yes, it is a privilege to be a 
friend of mine. 

WOULDBY 

[Pursuing Sud] Will you read my manuscript, 
sir? 

SUD 

Never roll a manuscript. I see very well you 
don't even know the first principles. 

WOULDBY 

How can I learn the first principles? No one 
will tell me. 

SUD 

Wait, I shall do a great thing for you ; let you 
stay and see a dress rehearsal of my latest play, 
"The Pot Boiler." In it I have used all dramatic 
principles. 

WOULDBY 
What are they? 

SUD 

Well, for instance, this pencil is the woman in 
the case. 

[ 146 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

WOULDBY 

Pencil. 

SUD 

This inkwell is the villain, altho' that's really 
too dark for him. Deep-dyed villains are out of 
fashion. 

WOULDBY 
Inkwell. 

SUD 
The heroine is Miss Ivory, paper cutter. 

WOULDBY 
Ivory. 

SUD 
Mr. Ruler is iihe hero. 

WOULDBY 
Ruler. 

SUD 

[Other characters enter from stage door] I 
h'aven't finished writing it, but we're going through 
it this morning as far as I have written, then I 
shall see how to go on. Here are the players now. 
Line up, please, and let me see your costumes. 
[Sud studies them.'] That's nice, Miss Ivory, nice 
and white, but, Mrs. Pencil, what do you mean by 
wearing an evening gown! 

MRS. PENCIL 
A vampire always wears a vampish gown. 

SUD 

But it is afternoon ; I wrote tea time, not dinner. 
[147] 



THE POT BOILER 

MRS. PENCIL 

One always wears evening gowns in all the 
smart productions I've been in 

SUD 

That will do, I'll speak to you after rehearsal 
Mr. Ruler, no red tie ? 

RULER 
[Changes blue tie for red] All right, sir. 

SUD 

Inkwell, you are the villain but I didn't say 
pirate. You are much too black. 

INKWELL 

You want me to go light on the dark stuff? 
All right, I got you. 

SUD 

[Clapping his hands] Now to work to work, 
clear the stage! [Mrs. Pencil and Rider go out 
left. Mr. and Miss Ivory and Inkwell go out right; 
that is, they hide behind the piled up scenery of the 
open stage.] Go down and take an orchestra seat, 
Mr. Wouldby. [Wouldby does so.] You must 
imagine that this room i,s the library in Mr. Ivory's 
house. [Sud claps his hands and goes downstairs 
to orchestra aisle. ] Ready. 

[There is a pause, then the door up left opens 
and Mrs. Pencil comes in; her pantomime is as Sud 
explains it to Wouldby.] 

SUD 

[In stage whisper to Wouldby] The adventuress 
[ 148 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

she comes in she has been out she is worried 
That nervous twitching of lips and narrowing 
of eyes, are always full of suspense she takes 
off her gloves, her hat that's good business. A 
door opens she starts by starting she shows you 
she is guilty of something 

Miss IVORY 

[Without hat or gloves enters from right] Oh, 
there you are, Mrs. Pencil. 

MRS. PENCIL 
Yes, I'm back. 

Miss IVORY 

I thought I should have to drink my tea without 
you. 

[They sit down to tea Miss Ivory back of table, 
centre. Mrs. Pencil left of table.] 

SUD 

[In stage whisper to Wouldby] That tells the 
audience what time of the day it is ; besides, drink- 
ing afternoon tea shows Miss Ivory is in society. 

MRS. PENCIL 

Isn't your father going to join us? 

SUD 

[Aside] That's merely to show the girl has a 
father. 

Miss IVORY 
No, he is talking business with Mr. Inkwell. 

MRS. PENCIL 
[Starting] Inkwell. 

[149 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Miss IVORY 
Yes, do you know him? 

MRS. PENCIL 
[Evasively] I, Oh No 

SUD 

She's lying. A vampire always knows the vil- 
lain. 

MRS. PENCIL 
No no 

SUD 

[Aside] Do you catch it? Do you see how her 
nervousness suggests that there is a link between 
Mrs. Pencil and Inkwell? That's where I show 
my technique. 

WOULDBY 

[Scratching his head] Technique. How can I 
learn it? 

SUD 

It is the secret that every playwright locks in 
his breast. Keep the young ones out. Mum is the 
word. 

Miss IVORY 

I am so sorry father has all this trouble with 
the bricklayers. They shouldn't have gone on a 
strike just now when you are visiting us. 

SUD 

[To Wouldby'] That tells that Mrs. Pencil is a 
guest in Miss Ivory's house. 

Miss IVORY 

When you were here last year my mother 
L 150 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

SUD 

[Aside] The girl hesitates they both look sor- 
rowful ; we had to cut down on the cast, so I killed 
off her mother. 

MRS. PENCIL 

[Sadly, with a foreign accent} Ah, my dear 
we were such close friends since my arrival in this 
country 

SUD 

[Aside] You see I had to make her a foreigner. 
A vampire always talks with a foreign accent. 

MRS. PENCIL 

I haven't had much time to read particulars 
about the strike. Does your father still refuse to 
arbitrate ? 

Miss IVORY 

[Haughtily] What right have bricklayers to 
make rules for my father? He would show his 
weakness if he gave in I have faith that what 
he does is right. 

SUD 

[To Wouldby] The innocent heroine so cool and 
pure and white. 

[The right door opens and Inkwell enters he 
starts as he sees Mrs. Pencil; there is a straight 
look of recognition between them which Miss Ivory 
does not see.] 

SUD 

[Aside] That's a dramatic scene. Doesn't it 
thrill your spine? 

[ 151 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Miss IVORY 

Mrs. Pencil, may I introduce Mr. Inkwell 
[Inkwell and Mrs. Pencil bow slightly.~\ Will you 
have a dis-h of tea? 

SUD 
Cup, cup of tea. 

Miss IVORY 
{Walks down stage to front~\ Dish, dish of tea! 

SUD 
[In orchestra pit~\ Cup! I wrote CUP ! 

Miss IVORY 

[Temperamentally] Mr. Sud, last year when I 
was in England the Duke of Creighton himself 
offered me a dish of tea. 

SUD 

I don't care a damn about the Duke I wrote 
cup! 

Miss IVORY 

Mr. Sud, I'm used to playing the smartest parts. 
It's dish it's dish! or I quit! which is it? 

SUD 

No more temperament, please! Say anything 
you like ! I suggest bathtub ! 

Miss IVORY 

Mr. Inkwell, will you have a dish of tea, and 
please tell me that you have ordered the strikers 
to come to father's terms? 



THE POT BOILER 

INKWELL 

[At right of table] He is looking through his 
safe for more papers, so he asked me to wait in 
here. 

SUD 
That's an explanation why he came in. 

Miss IVORY 
[Offering cup~\ How many lumps? 

SUD 

[Aside to Wouldby] That question of the num- 
ber of lumps is very important ; it gives a natural 
air to the scene. 

Miss IVORY 

I am going to the dining-room to get some ar- 
rack for your tea. 

SUD 

[To Wouldby] That's only to show the father 
has a supply. 

INKWELL 
[Nervoutly] Oh, please don't trouble 

Miss IVORY 

No trouble at all. [Exit right.'] 

SUD 

When you want to get a character out, you've 
got to get 'em out. 

INKWELL 

[At right of table, to Mrs. Pencil] You here? 
[ 153 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

MRS. PENCIL 

[At left, of table] Sch! I had to come. I 
couldn't live [without you any longer 

INKWELL 
But in tliis house? 

MRS. PENCIL 
I was her mother's friend. 

INKWELL 
You are indiscreet 

MRS. PENCIL 

I was desperate for you; you kept putting me 
off When I read about this strike I had to come. 

SITD 

Mrs. Pencil is the dreadful woman. A play 
can't exist without her 

WOULDBY 
You mean she was his 

SUD 

[Seriously] Oh, yes the more fuss we make 
about her the better. 

MRS. PENCIL 

Oh, Clem ! you aren't glad to see me ! Oh ! that 
I have lived for this ! [She tears around the stage 
waving Tier hands in grief making faces of 
agony. Sud rises in astonishment and follows her 9 
left.-] 

STTD 

[Shrieks in anger as he dashes up the stairs to 
[ 154 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Idiot! Can't you talk? Do you think I 
write lines to be cut ? How dare you cut my lines ! 

MRS. PENCIL 

I've done just what it says. [She takes her 
part from table, reads from it and shows it to him.] 
"Mrs. Pencil shows extreme despair and passion- 
ately" 

SUD 

That's not the play ! That's the moving picture 
version! [He fumbles with his papers.] 

WOULDBY 

Oh, have you the same play ready for the 
movies ? 

SUD 

I write in columns along side of each other. 
Dramatic version, moving picture, novelization 
for magazines newspapers and books. 

WOULDBY 
!A11 at once! 

SUD 
Yes! 

WOULDBY 
What are all the pins for? 

SUD 

When I cut out a line one place I keep it until 
I find a place somewhere else to patch it in. [Hands 
new lines to Mrs. Pencil who is back of table, 
centre.] 

[ 155 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

WOULDBY 

A great playwright has to be economical with 
his great ideas! 

SUD 
Yes, if he wants a yacht. 

MRS. PENCIL 

[Studying her book] Now I see, now I see Mr, 
Sud. Shall I go on? 

SUD 

Yes, go on ! [Sud goes halfway downstairs and 
waits.'} 

MRS. PENCIL 

Oh! Clem I was so frightened when I heard 
about the strikers. Even if you are their leader 
now, they might turn and murder you. 

[Mrs. Pencil and Inkwell play centre, front of 
table.] 

INKWELL 

Nonsense, I control the strikers, they come to 
me for orders. I'll stop this strike as soon as old 
Ivory gives me my price. 

MRS. PENCIL 
What do the bricklayers want? 

INKWELL 

They want shorter hours, more pay, better 
lighting ^better air [Inkwell stops and looks up 
at Sud.] 

SUD 
Go on go on don't glare at me! 

[ 156 ] 



! 



THE POT BOILER 

INKWELL 

Pardon me, Mr. Sud but you have me say the 
bricklayers want better air. It doesn't sound 
right. You see bricklayers work out of doors and 
the air there is I beg your pardon it's in no 
way of criticism, sir 

SUD 

Come here. [He cuts the lme.~\ Leave out 
"lighting and air!" That's a confusion from bad 
typing in the serial version. Go on, Mr. Inkwell. 

INKWELL 

[Sits right of table and Mrs. Pencil left.] 
See here, Kate, you keep out of this business 
I'm not going to be spied on by any woman. 

MRS. PENCIL 
Who is spying on you? [In whisper, ,] 

INKWELL 
You! [In whisper J] 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

SUD 

[Smacks his lips~\ Now we are coming to a big 
scene! There is nothing so effective as the repeti- 
tion of the same words brought up to a climax. 
Begin again, Mrs. Pencil. "Who is spying on 
you?" 

MRS. PENCIL 
Who is spying on you ? 

[ 157 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

SUD 

[Tearing his hair going to them'] Parrots! 
Nothing but parrots! Increase the stress build 
up tihe scene build build ! 

INKWELL 

How can we build when you don't give us any 
lines ? 

SUD 

What do you call yourselves actors for if you 
can't supply acting when the playwright uses 
dashes ! This is the biggest scene in the play. 
[Crosses to lower left.~\ The very fact that I don't 
give you a lot of literary lines puts me in the class 
of the most forceful dramatists of the day? My 
plays are not wishy-washy lines? They are full of 
action red-blood of flesh and blood! Now you 
do your part bing-bang stuff! shake them in 
their chairs out there make shivers run up their 
[ 158 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

spines ! Make 'em feel you ! Compel their ap- 
plause ! Now go to it ! Go to it ! 

[Sud sets the tempo, repeating their words.] 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

SUD 

[Shouts] Get it over ! Mr. Wouldby, is it get- 
ting over? 

WOULDBY 

[Looks at footlights] I don't see anything get 
over. 

SUD 

He doesn't see it ! You hear ? He doesn't see it ! 
Begin again! And please, please, please get it 
over over! [He motions 'violently with his arms 
during following scene as if to help them raise the 
'vitality of the scene. Sud sets tempo again f stamp- 
ing his foot.'] 

MRS. PENCIL 
Who is spying on you ? 

INKWELL 
You! 

[ 159] 



THE POT BOILER 

MBS. PENCIL 
I? 

INKWELL 
You! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I? 

INKWELL 
You!! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I?? 

INKWELL 
You!!! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I?? 

INKWELL 
[Fiercely] You!!! 

MRS. PENCIL 
I??? 

INKWELL 

What do you call it, then, coining here after 
me like this? 

MRS. PENCIL 
What do you mean like this? 

SUD 
[Shrieks beside himself ~\ Like what? 

MRS. PENCIL 
Like this? 

[ 160 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

SUD 

Accent it stress it increase it ! Like what? 

MRS. PENCIL 
Like this! 

SUD 
Like what? 

MRS. PENCIL 
Like this ! 

SUD 

[Rushes around the stage, kicking over a chair 
in a passion of despair^ The best scene in the play 
ruined ruined! I'm noted for my strong, 
laconic scenes and you make me suffer like this. 
Perfectly hopeless I say increase you decrease ; 
nothing but animal sounds! Nothing but a m'a- 
chine! Oh! what's the use! Go on, go on now 
you see, Mr. Wouldby, how actors can make plays 
fail t 

MRS. PENCIL 
If you'd write us a decent play once 

SUD 

No back-talk, madam! I haven't engaged you 
yet. If you can't play it any better, I'll let you 
out! Show us what you can do with the rest of 
the scene! By George if you can't pound his 
chest right the box office will lose money on you! 

WOULDBY 
[His eyes popping'} OH ! must she pound him ? 

SUD 
Seeing a woman pounding a man's che-st and 

[161 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

hearing her scream is worth 3 dollars to anybody. 
Go on, Mrs. Pencil. 

MRS. PENCIL, 

You are keeping something from me ? You have 
deceived me ! You dog ! Tell me ! Tell me ! Who 
is she? Where is she? You are keeping something 
from me! 

[She pounds Inkwell in a rage.'] 

WOULDBY 

[In innocent wonderment^ Is she trying to yank 
it out of his chest? 

SUD 

Pound ! Pound ! Get it over ! 

[Sud rushes back between Mrs. Pencil and Ink- 
well, pushes her down left, drags Inkwell to centre, 
grasps his coat lapel, shakes him violently and 
shouts her lines : " You are keeping something from 
me" and pushes Inkwell to right. Sud turns 
quickly to left and shows her his manuscript .] 

I wrote "applause" here. You've got to get 
applause here so pound ! 

INKWELL, 

Would you mind skipping the scene today? I'll 
wear a foot-ball suit tomorrow. 

SUD 

[In scorn] Just like an actor to have a personal 
prejudice against a part. 

[ 162 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

INKWELL 

I'm not "suited" to it yet but with the proper 
costume 

SUD 

[In scorn] You must not rely on costume! 
Think of your art! 

WOULDBY 
But why must she pound him so hard? 

SUD 

[Down left~] Because he is tJhe villain and the 
audience likes to see him get it. 

MRS. PENCIL 

[At right and Inkwell to her left] Who is she? 
You are keeping something from me ! 

WOULDBY 

What has he done to make him the villain? 

SUD 

I didn't want an explanation here so I had to 
interrupt them Sch here comes Miss Ivory. 
[Miss Ivory enters right.] 

SUD 
Such interruptions reek with dramatic intensity. 

Miss IVORY 
Here is the arrack for you, Mr. Inkwell 

INKWELL 
[Accepting it] Thank you. 

[ 163 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

MRS. PENCIL 

[Nervously; Inkwell gives Tier her hat] Think 
I'll take my hat to my room 
[She goes out left.] 

SUD 

[Aside] Not a bad excuse, the hat? Ph? I had 
to get her out. 

WOULDBY 
Very natural yes indeed 

Miss IVORY 

[Seated at right of table. Inkwell stands back 
of table centre.] Well, Mr. Inkwell, I hope we 
may yet succeed in claiming you as a friend 
instead of coddling you as an enemy. 

INKWELL 

If you treat all your enemies so well what must 
you do for your friends. 

Miss IVORY 
We abuse those we love. 

SUD 

[Chuckling to Wouldby] Quite epigrammatic, 
dh? 

INKWELL 
Even abuse at such fair hands could only please. 

SUD 

[Aside] Did you catch the subtlety of that line? 
[164 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

MlSS IVOEY 

[Nervously] Wi wi will you have some more 
tea? 

INKWELL 

[Coming left of table to be opposite her; 
catching her hand] I don't want tea I want you ! 
I love you ! 

SUD 

Wait a moment ! That's too abrupt ! I've some 
more lines here somewhere. [Looks through slips 
pinned in manuscript] I cut some out of the be- 
ginning of the act. When the first curtain went 
up and the maid was discovered dusting the room 
I had the Irish butler make love to her. [Handing 
Inkwell a paragraph] There, Inkwell, are the love 
lines I was looking for. Proceed, please. 

Miss IVORY 
Shall I go back? 

INKWELL 
To tea. 

Miss IVORY 
Wi wi will you have some m more t tea? 

INKWELL 

[Catching her hand and bringing her forward, 
he gives speech with Irish accent] I don't want tea 
I want you ! I love you ! Oh ! my darlin*t h't is 
a terrible sensation. I 'ave for you, I 'ave 'and 
me your little 'and in moine, for the loikes of you 
I never [as all look dazed and Inkwell has 
trouble twisting his tongue] I beg pardon, Mr. 
[ 165 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Sud, but this is a butler making love I am play- 
ing the part of a gentleman 

SUD 

[Has retired in tears and rage up right] 
Haven't you any brains of your own? If a 
musician can transpose music by sight, can't you 
do the same to dialogue? 

INKWELL 
But a gentleman doesn't make love like a 

SUD 

[Goes up stage again] He means the same 
now go on I can't stand these arguments. They 
will give me apoplexy ! Go on, go on, go on ! ! 

Miss IVORY 

Oh! come, Robert, say anything. [They sit 
at table again.'] 

INKWELL 
Ahem! 

Miss IVORY 
Wi wi will you have some more t tea? 

INKWELL 

I don't want tea ! I want you ! I love you ! Oh ! 
my darling it is a wonderful feeling this one 
that which I have for you indeed that one 
which I have for you put your hand in mine 
for a woman like you never before fr fr never 
before that, which have I seen a woman such as 
you [Again lie has brought Miss Ivory down 
centreJ] 

[ 166 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

SUD 

My stars! Leave out that which such! 
Get it clear for tomorrow's rehearsal. 

INKWELL 

[Puts paragraph into his pocket hesitatingly, 
doubtfully, sarcastically^ I ought to have my name 
on the program as co-author. 

SUD 

[Jumps forward'] You ought to have it cut out 
of the program when you forget to act ! 

INKWELL 

But I'm worried about this play. I don't know 
how it's going to end. 
[Exit left.] 

SUD 

[Proudly^ I'm the author, leave that to me! 
[Raps on floor and cries out] Mr. Ruler Mr. 
Ruler! 

RULE- 
[Off stage] What is it? 

SUD 

Pay some attention to your cues, please ! 
[Sud goes into pit.] 

RULER 

[Pokes head in from left] Beg pardon, sir I 
didn't hear my cue! 

SUD 

It's your business to listen for it. 
[ 167 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

RULER 

But they didn't give me the cue ! 

SUD 
Well, what is your cue ? 

RULER 
What is it? 

SUD 
I asked you what your cue was ? 

RULER 
[Advances] What is it? 

SUD 
Is your hearing perfectly clear? 

RULER 
Perfectly. 

SUD 
Then will you kindly tell me what your cue is? 

RULER 
What is it. 

SUD 

I shall go mad! I'm dealing with lunatics! 
Lunatics Once again I ask you, Mr. Ruler if 
you can hear! [ Yells] Kindly read from your book 
and tell me what your cue is 

RULER 

[Yells furiously and is now down stage"] I've 
been trying to tell you my cue is "WHAT IS 
IT!" 

[ 168] 



THE POT BOILER 

[During this scene all the other players come in 
to see the fight.] 

SUD 

{Wipes perspiration from brow} Heart disease! 
Heart disease I shall die of it ! That line was cut 
long ago! [Sud walks back and forth across the 
pit.] The trouble with you actors is you can't 
forget. Oh ! if you could only forget ! 

WOULDBY 

[Meekly] I always thought actors had to re- 
member. 

SUD 
Any fool can remember 

RULER 

See here, Mr. Sud I don't take abuse! In 
fact, it's my first experience taking it from 
authors. In all the other companies I've been in 
the manager kept the playwright out. He wouldn't 
have him meddling about! [Sud stops short dur- 
ing this speech turns straightens up buttons 
coat adjusts tie faces Ruler. ] 

SUD 

Mr. Ruler, I am backing the show. I haven't 
engaged you because you can act but because you 
were born good looking, which is scarcely a compli- 
ment to your own efforts. [Other players retire 
now laughing at Ruler. ~\ If you please we will 
proceed. I'll find a line here somewhere in my 
treasure note books. 

[He goes upstairs and stands near border lights 
[ 169 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

aside to hunt thro 9 many books he has in his 
pockets. Ruler sits left of table to rest and 
smoke.] 

[Mr. Ivory and Mrs. Pencil play cards out of 
character up stage.] 

Miss IVORY 

[Talks out of character and gets light from 
Ruler for her cigarette] Did you see the advance 
notices in the paper this morning, Jack saying 
the Pot-Boiler is sold out three weeks in advance? 

RULER 

Bill told me there's a steady line outside of the 
box office. 

Miss IVORY 

I have visions of rehearsing all night before the 
opening. 

RULER 

I'm used to doing that, my dear. What gets 
me is the story of the plot the Sunday edition 
printed. How can the newspaper know the plot 
before the playwright does? 

Miss IVORY 
Doesn't Mr. Sud know his own plot? 

RULER 

Why Lno, my part's not written after the second 
act. 

Miss IVORY 

My part isn't either, but it doesn't worry me. 
These authors [She points to her forehead] I 
don't memorize until dress rehearsal night. What's 
[170 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

the use? They don't know themselves by that time 
what lines they told you to keep in or put in or 
take out. The next morning the critics rewrite it, 
anyway, the manager I don't begin to memorize 
really until we're settled for a run. 

RULER 

[Worried"] You'll throw me all out if you give 
wrong cues 

Miss IVORY 

[Rises and strolls about} Oh! when I can't 
use my tongue I let my eyes talk. The public 
doesn't know the difference. / don't have to act, 
just be myself. They engage me for my eyes. 

SUD 

Ah! here's a precious line [goes up to Ruler} 
take it down, Mr. Ruler. "I was in the neighbor- 
hood looking for some real estate." [All the 
players suppress a laugh} Now, Mr. Ruler, you 
enter in time [Sud goes down the stairs again.} 
You enter in time to interrupt Mr. Inkwell's 
declaration of love to Miss Ivory. They spring 
apart spring! Mr. Inkwell! [Inkwell springs] 
No, the house is not on fire! I didn't say jump. 

INKWELL 

Spring is the same as jump! 
[Ruler enters from left, Inkwell goes right, 
Miss Ivory comes centre.} 

SUD 

There is no time to discuss synonyms. Go on, 
Miss Ivory. 

[ 171 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Miss IVORY 
Oh ! Jack Hello ! where'd you come from ? 

RULER 

I was in the neighborhood looking at some real 
estate Hello, Inkwell How's the strike? 

[Miss Ivory and Ruler cross to give Rider the 
centre.] 

INKWELL 
If you could persuade Mr. Ivory to 

RULER 

No Inkwell ! I'm not converted to your view ! 
I have my own theories ! 

SUD 

[To Wouldby~\ Now we are coming to the kernel 
of the play's success. The new viewpoint Use 
all the stock characters and situations you want 
but add a new twist. 

WOULDBY 
What does Ruler think? 

SUD 
Listen. 

RULER 

I believe sternly in justice righteous expiation 
of sin only in that way can we progress to higher 
things. 

SUD 
Forms, not things. 

RULER 

Beg pardon, forms the position I hold today is 
[ 172 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

the result of my desires in my previous life when 
the trumpet calls me into the next there I shall 
reap the harvest of what I have sown here. Why 
should we help the brick layers? 

Miss IVORY 
[Interrupts] Mr. Sud. 

SUD 
Sch ! [and waves her silent. ~\ 

RULER 

If they chose in their past life to be born brick 
layers here, have we the right 

[Miss Ivory interrupts several times. Miss 
Ivory is on stage left.] 

SUD 
Sch! 

RULER 

I ask you have we the right to tear down the 
building they designed when they were here before ? 
Have we the right to say to them how they shall 
lay the bricks in the foundation for their next life ? 
Have we the right 

Miss IVORY 
[Down stage front] Mr. Sud ! 

SUD 

[At last in desperation, near her in orchestra 
pit] Well, What is it, Miss Ivory ? 

Miss IVORY 

Excuse me, Mr. Sud but all this time while 
[ 173 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Ruler is talking I don't know what to do with my 
hands! Couldn't you cut his lines? 

RULER 

I protest! Mr. Sud, I would resent having a 
part shortened on me because the leading lady 
doesn't know what to do with her hands. I really 
think in this speech of mine you have shown your 
talent. To cut one word of it would do you a 
great injustice! 

SUD 

[Smiles at Ruler] Thank you ! Quite so ! Quite 
so! Miss Ivory during this scene you might be 
you might be be fanning yourself to keep 
yourself, the heroine, cool and white. 

WOULDBY 

How well you understand human nature. The 
play is really more important than the players 
isn't it? 

SUD 

[Aside to Wouldby] Of course, but actors are 
so superbly conceited. 

WOULDBY 
I know ; poor things ! 

SUD 
Mr. Ivory's entrance. 

WOULDB 
The girl's father? 

[ 174 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

IVOB-Y 

[Enters'] I could not find the papers in the safe, 
Inkwell. Ah how do you do, Jack 

Positions 

Inkwell Miss Ivory 

Mr. Ivory Ruler 

[Ivory lias crossed to Ruler and is between Miss 
Ivory and Ruler.] 

RULER 
Good morning, Mr. Ivory. 

IVORY 

Daughter dear >do you know anything about 
the papers in the safe? 

SUD 
Keep up the suspense Inkwell. 

INKWELL 
I have no lines here. 

SUD 

A villain should sustain the suggestion of vil- 
lainy whether he has lines or not. Look uneasy 
tremble 

INKWELL 
[Looks uneasy and trembles.] 

IVORY 

But if I see him tremble, Mr. Sud, wouldn't I 
ask him if he had a chill ? 

SUD 

It's not your business to be looking his way just 
then. Again Inkwell. 

[ 175] 



THE POT BOILER 

INKWELL 
[Trembles, etc.] 

SUD 
[Yells to Ivory] Don't catch his eye ! 

IVORY 
[To Inkwell] Will you tremble again, please. 

INKWELL, 
[Does so patiently.] 

SUD 

Count 5 for the tremble. Again please, 
"Daughter dear, do you know anything about the 
papers in the safe?" 

IVORY 

Daughter dear, do you know anything about the 
papers in the safe? 

SUD 

[Excitedly] Everybody look away. Tremble, 
Inkwell Now, Inkwell, count 5 now look at Ink- 
well Again please. 

IVORY 

Daughter dear, do you know anything about the 
papers in the safe? 

SUD 

[Claps his hands] One two three four 
five 

IVORY 
r To Inkwell] Those valuable papers ! 

[ 176 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

SUD 

That's it, go ahead ! 

Miss IVORY 

I don't even know the combination, father. 
Could they have been stolen? 

WOUI/DBY 
Did Inkwell really take them? 

SUD 

He's the villain, isn't he? I couldn't let the 
hero do it. 

MR. IVORY 

What shall I do? Where shall I look? Where, 
O where? 

[Ivory goes up stage back of Miss Ivory to 
table and knocks off revolvers.] 

Miss IVORY 
Oh! revolvers! 

RULER 
Let me, sir. [Picks them up.] 

Miss IVORY 
\Jn terror] Where did they come from? 

WOULDBY 

[Hands to ears] Are they going to use them? 

SUD 

Of course. I had to show the audience the re- 
volvers are there, so Ivory had to knock them 
down. 

[ 177 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

IVORY 

[Is up stage. Places one revolver on table] I 
have to have these near by when a strike is on, one 
never knows what to expect. 

RULER 

[Places other revolver on table] Even I have one 
in my pocket. 

INKWELL 
[Slaps his side pocket] And I in mine 

Miss IVORY 

Oh! dear, how dreadful; suppose one of them 
should go off. Oh ! do be careful ! 

INKWELL 

[Insinuatingly] Have you changed your mind, 
Mr. Ivory? Have you decided to accept my 
proposition ? 

Miss IVORY 
What is your proposition, Mr. Inkwell? 

INKWELL 

[Goes left to Ruler] I believe your father 
wishes to discuss it with you. Mr. Ruler, will you 
have a smoke with me in the orangangerie ? 

SUD 

[Corrects him with great disgust] Orawgerie! 
[Inkwell and Ruler exeunt right.] 

Miss IVORY 

[Crosses right; anxiously] What does he want 
to know 

[ 178 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

IVORY 

[Almost breaking down. Sinks into chair left 
of table.'] Oh, my daughter how can I tell you 
how can I I am ruined ruined! 

SUD 

[Rises, and beats time in rhythm like a con- 
ductor to their "Ohs".] 

Miss IVORY 
[Left of table] You ruined Oh! 

IVORY 
Oh! 

Miss IVORY 
Oh! 

SUD 

[Turning to Wouldby and whispers audibly] 
When you are hard ur> for conversation use 
Oh's " 

IVORY 

We have lived beyond our means Oh! my 
child I have only brought you misery 

Miss IVORY 

[Goes to father, stands back of his chair and 
caresses him.] Poor father don't take it that way 
I love you we must live differently anything 
you say 

WOULDBY 
[To Sud] How sweet and sacrificial! 

SUD 

[Enthusiastically'] Ah ! she's pure Ivory a chip 
off the old block ! 



THE POT BOILER 

IVORY 

That is not all! Inkwell represents the brick 
layers ; he will continue the strike unless I can buy 
him off. 

[Sud goes up right, to be behind them,. Faces 
them. Follows every line in his manuscript.] 

Miss IVORY 
And you can't raise the money? 

IVORY 

He doesn't want money. He wants to marry 
you! He will stop at nothing to get me into 
prison any place to crush me he has power. I 
have cause to fear him. [Ivory at right. ] 

Miss IVORY 

[At left; in distress] Oh! Oh! how terrible- 
how terrible! what am I to say? Oh father 
and I can save you? And I hesitate? Yes yes 
I will father! 

[Rushes to Ivory 9 s arms.] 

MR. IVORY 
Oh! my daughter! My child! My child! 

Miss IVORY 

Yes, father, I will, cost me what it may. I will. 
[She reads last line flatly.] 

SUD 

Miss Ivory! Show some feeling! Think how 
you feel when you read those lines ! 
[ 180 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

Miss IVORY 

I know how I feel when I read those lines ! [Im- 
pudently; then with some feeling] Yes, father, I 
will. Cost me what it may, I will. Mr. Inkwell ! 

SUD 

Abandonment, Miss Ivory abandonment "Mr. 
Inkwell ! Mr. Inkwell !" 

Miss IVORY 

[Nods intelligently} Mr. Inkwell! Mr. 
In-n-k-we-ell ! 

IVORY 

[Rushing after Miss Ivory] Wait think 
consider 

Miss IVORY 

Mr. Inkwell I have decided yes YES! 
[Inkwell and Ruler enter right.] 

INKWELL 
[Takes her hand] Oh ! my dear !; 

IVORY 
[With bowed head] Oh! 

RULER 
[In alarm to Miss Ivory] My dear what is it? 

SUD 

[Pouncingly] Now there's your line, "what is 
it." I tucked it in there. 

Miss IVORY 

[Goes left to Mr. Ruler. Ivory is up centre. 
Inkwell is right] 



THE POT BOILER 

I can't keep my promise to you Mr. Ruler 
please don't ask for an explanation. 

RULER 

[Excited, rushing up to Mr. Ivory] What is it, 
Mr. Ivory? 

IVORY 

\_In despair, taking Ruler's arm "for support] 
Oh ! I am broken hearted broken hearted she 
is going to marry Inkwell ! 

4 

RULER 

No! no! not while I live! [Goes with Ivory 
easily.'] 

IVORY 

It must be! Come with me I'll tell you 
alone ! 

RULER 
Not while I live ! 

SUD 

[Excitedly} Mr. Ruler! Mr. Ruler! You go 
out too easily ! Wait ! I remember a precious line 
I cut out of one of my last year's plays. It is per- 
fectly fresh, no novelty worn off and incontestably 
original ! "I am coming back." 

RULER 

[Deferentially Ruler writes the line.] I am com- 
ing back yes, sir. I am coming back. 

SUD 
There is no "yes, sir" in it. 

[182] 



THE POT BOILER 

RULER 
No, sir. 

SUD 

Do you wish to retire a few minutes and commit 
to memory? [Ruler repeats the line.] Now that 
we are reaching the climax I want as few interrup- 
tions and references to the book as possible 

RULER 

I think I have it. [All resume former positions.] 
Cue please, Mr. Ivory. 

IVORY 

[Drags Ruler across to go out right'] Come 
with me I'll tell you ! alone ! 

RULER 

Not while I live! I am coming back! I am 
coming back ! I am coming back ! 

[Exeunt Ivory and Ruler right. .] 

[Sud tiptoes up centre to make sure Mrs. Pencil 
is ready for her cue.~\ 

INKWELL 

[To Miss Ivory] Now that they have left us 
alone my darling let me tell you how I have 
waited for this moment 

Miss IVORY 

[In despair and tears she tries to rush by to 
right but he catches her.] No let me pass not 
now ; I have said yes ; let it go at that I cannot 
talk now not now 
[Exit right weeping.] 

[ 183 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

MRS. PENCIL 

\_ln fury of jealousy opens door left and enters 
in rage} Coward ! Villain ! I have been listening 
behind that door all your vows to me were false ! 

INKWELL 
[He tries to choice her] Don't yell so ! 

MRS. PENCIL 
[In ordinary tone] I will yell ! 

SUD 

[Delighted] Of course she will! Shriek good, 
Mrs. Pencil. 

MRS. PENCIL 
[Skrieki\ Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! 

INKWELL 

[They struggle. Grabs Mrs. Pencil and tries to 
put his hand over her mouth.] Stop ! Stop ! 

SUD 

Tussle ! Tussle ! The audience loves it ! 
[They fight.] 

WOULDBY 

But what did Inkwell do? 

SUD 

[Talks -fast over shoulder to Wouldby as a man 
m a fast auto talks to another passing'] Can't tell 
you. Haven't decided yet! Explanation in last 
act. No time now. Reaching climax of play. 
Keep it up ! Keep it up ! 

[ 184 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

MRS. PENCIL, 

[Yelling] Oh! the treachery perjury! You 
are not fit to live! I'll have my revenge ! Re- 
venge! Bing! Bang! [She grabs tiny revolver 
from table and shoots with a "pop" at Inkwell. 
He falls back and obligingly lies upon the table.] 
I hate you ! I hate you ! I hate you ! 

Miss IVORY 

[Having heard the shot and shrieks runs in from 
the right crying] Oh who's hurt? 

MRS. PENCIL. 

[Turning and aiming revolver at Miss Ivory] 
Don't come near him or I'll shoot you ! 

RULER 
[Enters from right] What's the matter? 

Miss IVORY 

[Screams at Ruler] Don't move or she'll shoot 
you. 

RULER 

[Talcing a revolver out of his pocket, aims it at 
Mrs. Pencil] Harm her and I'll shoot you! 

INKWELL 

[Who has come to in the meantime, manages to 
get his own revolver out of his pocket; he half 
raises himself from his lying position on the table 
and aims at Ruler crying hoarsely] You thought 
you could be my rival the girl said she would be 
mine ! If you shoot the woman, she'll kill the girl. 
Pm going to save the girl. Shoot and I'll kill 
YOU! 

[ 185 ] 



THE POT BOILER 

ME. IVORY 

[Has entered from right and hearing these 
desperate words takes revolver from his pocket 
and aims it at Inkwell! Screams in fear and rage'] 
Stop! save him or I'll sihoot to kill! I'll shoot to 
kill! I'll shoot to kill! 

WOULDBY 

[Thrilled and excited, cries out~\ Who shoots? 

SUD 

[Overcome with sudden realization, jumps up, 
grabs his forehead, shrieks^ Ah! it's a deadlock! 
I don't know who shoots ! 

WOULDBY 

[Hurrying out of house in disgust^ Oh ! shoot 
the author! 

[Sud runs up to the stage in despair, wildly mo- 
tioning down the curtain.~] 

In vaudeville Miss Ivory asks, "Who shoots?" 
and all the players exclaim in disgust, "Oh, shoot 
the author!" 

CURTAIN 



[ 186 ] 



HEARTS 

A ONE ACT PLATT 



CHARACTERS 

The characters are four women of fashion. 
MRS. RUSSELL RUSSELL, Jessica 
MRS. PHILIP MARTINGAY, Cynthia 
MRS. EDWIN PUFF, Nell 
MRS. JAY THORNE 



First production at the Anna Morgan Studios, Chicago. 
Later played at the Grace Hickox Studios, Chicago; 
Houston, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Evanston, 111., etc. 



COPYRIGHTED, 1917, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



HEARTS 

SCENE: A fashionable drawing-room. There 
is a large high backed arm chair at right and a 
card table at an angle centre left. Jessica is 
seated at the table facing the audience. Cynthia 
is seated left of table and Nell at right. There is 
a fourth chair, vacant, with its back partly to the 
audience. The last card of a dummy hand lies on 
the table before it. As the curtain rises each 
woman holds a card in her hand and all are chat- 
tering unintelligibly. 

JESSICA 
[Plays her last card.] 

NELL 

{Plays the last card of Tier dummy hand] Of 
course she uses belladonna in 'her eyes. They are 
much too brilliant to be natural. 

CYNTHIA 

[Plays her last card] With a doctor for a hus- 
band one can learn anything about drugs. 

NELL 

[Playing the last card from her own hand and 
taking the trick] She wouldn't stop at anything 
which helps to fas'cinate men. It's my game. 
[Silently figures and pencils scoreJ] 

[ 189 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 

Jay Thorne had no business marrying the second 
time. We got along so nicely with dear departed 
Anne. She never aroused antagonism. 

NELL 
Anne was so sweet. 

CYNTHIA 

Anne was so sensible. She, knew a doctor had to 
make professional visits to other women but this 
Mrs. Thorne won't let him out of her sight. 

JESSICA 

[Shuffling cards] Not only that, Cynthia, if she 
only stopped at holding on to her own husband, 
but she annexes every other husband she can get. 

NELL 
You can just see them lick sugar from her hand. 

CYNTHIA 

Now you've said it, Nell, that's just the attitude 
Philip took the other evening when he shook hands 
with her at Mrs. Hale's dinner. Didn't I lecture 
him afterwards though! You have no business, I 
said, showing deference like that to any other 
woman but me, I said, I'm your wife, I said, I come 
first, I said. 

JESSICA 

[Giving cards to Cynthia to cut~\ Oh, I laid the 
law down to Russell too. He wouldn't talk to me 
for three days, said I was jealous, said he was pay- 
ing me back for monopolizing the doctor away 
from poor dear Anne when she was alive. Said he 

[ 190 ] 



HEARTS 

was j oily well glad I knew now how lie used to feel 
when the doctor monopolized me! 

NELL 

[Jealously'] Oh, did Dr. Thorne come to see you 
often, Jessica ? I don't see how he could have had 
time. We kept him so busy at our house, with all 
the children needing him constantly. 

CYNTHIA 

And Dr. Thorne called on me every day after 
my serious operation. I used to say to him, I said, 
"you saved my life" and he thanked me for living. 

JESSICA 
Now don't start about your operation. 

CYNTHIA 

[As they take up their cards] But none of you 
have had such an operation! Why [proudly], I 
have gone down into the medical books as a unique 
case! 

NELL 

Poor dear Anne never flaunted gold bags and 
Russian sables! This Mrs. Thorne is living evi- 
dence of the outrageous fees we have to pay ! 

JESSICA 
I make it no trump. 

NELL 

[Going right on talking] Every time she has a 
new gown I know we paid for it ! 

C 191 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 
I pass. 

NELL 

[Going right on talking] And Edwin says she's 
deuced right to make the best of her looks, but if 
I buy a new gown I have to pay it out of my own 
check-book ! 

JESSICA 
I made it no trump. 

NELL 

Did you say no trump ? And I play first. Well, 
there [Puts down card.] 

JESSICA 

[Reaching across table to play dummy] Now 
for dummy. She's most inconsiderate not to come 
on time. 

CYNTHIA 
Why did you invite her at all ? 

JESSICA 

If you don't invite her you may need another 
operation and she can keep the doctor from per- 
forming it. 

CYNTHIA 
The cat! 

JESSICA 

[Playing card -for dummy] If we ask her to litth 
affairs like this we can afford to leave her out of 
the social events that count. The doctor hates 
them anyway and never comes. Why should we 
take her in ? Who was she anyway ? 



HEARTS 

[Nell plays, Jessica plays, takes a trick and 
plays again.] 

CYNTHIA 

[Plays] He just picked her up in Florida, she 
might be the worst kind of adventuress. 

NELL 

\_In glee and stops playing to gossip] Oh, I've a 
juicy bit to tell, it makes me lick my lips! 

JESSICA 
[Delighted] Do tell us ! 

CYNTHIA 

[Delighted] Isn't it fun to discuss her? Every- 
body does ! 

NELL 

Mrs. Twombly thought it was very pretentious 
for Mrs. Thome to have a box at the opera and 
decided she would cut her outright. 

CYNTHIA 
Oh, I heard the tale ! 

JESSICA 
I didn't ;tell me. 

NELL and CYNTHIA 
On opening night Mrs. Thome [Both stop.] 

NELL 
[To Cynthia] You tell it ! 

CYNTHIA 
[To Nell] No, you started it. 

[ 193 ] 






HEARTS 

NELL 

On opening night in comes Mrs. Thome much 
bedecked, enters her box next to Mrs. Twombly, 
and Mrs. Twombly in full view of the house turns 
away her head. 

JESSICA 
I should have died of mortification 

CYNTHIA 
Not Mrs. Thome. 

NELL 

No, Mrs. Thome leans over to her husband and 
in a whisper loud enough for everybody to hear 
she asks him sweetly: "Jay, dear, am I mistaken, 
but isn't that the Mrs. Twombly you operated for 
a floating kidney?" 

JESSICA 
She didn't say that! 

NELL 
She certainly did ! 

JESSICA 
Wasn't Mrs. Twombly furious ? 

CYNTHIA 

The worst of it is it didn't stop there. The 
story is going the rounds. A guest in Mrs. 
Twombly's box repeated the story to someone else 
and called the floating kidney a swimming 
gizzard! 

JESSICA 

And now, I suppose, Mrs. Twombly doesn't dare 
cut her again ! 

[ 194 ] 






HEARTS 

NELL 

My dear, people are beginning to realize that 
Mrs. Thome is far too dangerous to cut. 

[The portieres part back right and Mrs. Thome, 
a stunning woman gowned with great taste, enters. 
She has charm of manner, a well modulated voice, 
and sweetness in her nature under a surface of 
society poise, defensive rather than aggressive.] 

MRS. THORNE 
The maid told me to come in. 

JESSICA 
[Rises to greet her~\ Oh, Mrs. Thorne. 

MRS. THORNE 

Sorry I'm late, Mrs. Russell. I was detained at 
luncheon with Mrs. Paul Stafford. 

NELL 

[Raises eye-brows at Cynthia] Luncheon with 
Mrs. Paul Stafford. 

CYNTHIA 
[Raises her eye-brows at Nell.] 

JESSICA 

We played a few rounds while waiting. You 
know Mrs. Martingay and Mrs. Puff? 

MRS. THORNE 
Yes indeed. 

[She goes as if to greet them but changes her 
mind as they do not move.] 
[ 195 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 
[Coldly] How do you do. 

NELL 
[Nods.] 

MRS. THORNE 

[Feels the chilliness of the atmosphere, takes a 
measuring glance, and determines to win the women 
over.] I remember that Mrs. Martingay has a 
very charming husband. 

CYNTHIA 
You did pay a lot of attention to him. 

MRS. THORNE 

An attractive man is always a living compliment 
to his wife and the charjn she must have had to win 
him. 

CYNTHIA 
[At a loss] Shall we play? 

MRS. THORNE 
May I take off my coat? 

JESSICA 
So negligent of me ! 

MRS. THORNE 

It was warm. You're home is so rightly tem- 
pered, Mrs. Russell. 

NELL 

I'm glad you've shown us the coat. We've 
heard so much about it. 

[ 196 ] 



HEARTS 

MRS. THORNE 

I have a cousin in Canada who can send me furs 
quite inexpensively. I wouldn't dream of causing 
my husband too much expense. That's what 
people are accusing me of. Would you mind put- 
ting them right about it? 

CYNTHIA 
They say you are rather clever at telling stories. 

MRS. THORNE 

You mean you don't believe me. I thought you 
were a better judge of human nature than that. 

CYNTHIA 
\_At a loss~] Shall we play? 

JESSICA 

[ With a touch of malice'] Will you take dummy's 
seat, Mrs. Thorne? 

MRS. THORNE 

Thank you, no, I'll wait until you finish your 
game. 

JESSICA 

[Nervously] Let us finish the hand quickly then. 

[They exchange glances and play the hand 
quickly; meanwhile Mrs. Thorne wanders about 
the room, smelling flowers, reading titles on books, 
but all the time thinking about the women and mak- 
ing up her mind how she should treat them.~\ 

CYNTHIA 
The game's yours, Nell. 



HEARTS 

JESSICA 
[Rising] Now, Mrs. Thome. 

MRS. THORNE 

[Advances graciously and with much ease takes 
the chair Jessica has vacated, thus obviously leav- 
ing the previous dummy chair for Jessica to take.] 

CYNTHIA 

{Holding up Mrs. Thome's gold bag as Mrs. 
Thome shuffles cards] What a marvelous gold 
mesh! Plow many operations does it represent? 

JESSICA 

[Taking it from Cynthia and opening it~] May 
I open it? [She does so.] 

MRS. THORNE 

[As she deals] It was given to me by Mr. Craw- 
ford in gratitude for my husband's cure of him. 

CYNTHIA 

How nice of the men to pay you instead of your 
husband. 

JESSICA 
Oh, I've spilled some pills out of your bag. 

NEI/L 

[Picking up pills from floor] What a violent 
purple. 

MRS. THORNE 

I must lhave the catch mended on my bon-bon 
box. Will you have one, Mrs. Martingay? They 
sweeten venomous tongues. 

[ 198 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 
No, thank you, they look more like poison. 

NELL 
I never saw pills that color. 

JESSICA 

[Laughs'] Are they medicine for some serious 
malady of yours ? 

MRS. THORNE 
[With a snale] They are cocciamphiberagamus. 

JESSICA 
[Laughs] That doesn't mean anything to me. 

NELL 
Nor tc me. 

MRS. THORNE 

The doctor is experimenting with them. He 
guards them very carefully. In fact I'm not sup- 
posed to have any. I didn't dare take many at a 
time just one at intervals, so it couldn't be 
noticed. 

CYNTHIA 
[Laughs'] I wager they're poison for enemies. 

MRS. THORNE 
They are. 
[There is a pause. ] 

JESSICA 
You have a sense of humor, Mrs. Thorne. 

MRS. THORNE 

If you doubt me, take one. [Passes them.] 
[ 199 ] 



HEARTS 

JESSICA 

Even if I didn't believe you, I'm not willing to 
run the risk. 

NELL 
[Laughs'] No thank you, I'd rather be safe. 

CYNTHIA 
I wouldn't take it on trust. 

JESSICA 
Try one yourself. 

MRS. THORNE 

Of course you think it is eccentric, dangerous, 
or criminal for me to be carrying cocciamphibera- 
gamus in my purse. 

NELL 

Oh, I don't believe it, I'll take one. 

[She raises one to her lips but Mrs. Thorne 
knocks it out of her hand, then picks it up carefully 
and puts it back into her bag.] 

MRS. THORNE 

I beg your pardon, Mrs. Puff, I'm not saving 
for you. 

NELL 
Oh, you scared me ! 

CYNTHIA 
The law ought to look into that, Mrs. Thorne! 

JESSICA 

It ought to be reported to your husband. 
[ 200 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 
That is just what we shall have to do. 

JESSICA 

Let's go on with the game. I don't want 
notoriety ! 

MRS. THORNE 
Very well. I dealt I bid two hearts. 

CYNTHIA 
Two spades. 

JESSICA 
One diamond. 

NELL 
Three hearts. 

MRS. THORNE 
I'm very fond of hearts. 

JESSICA 

It sounds reckless to me but if you think you 
can 

MRS. THORNE 

Hearts again how about it, Mrs. Martingay, 
do you overbid me in hearts ? 

CYNTHIA 

No, but you have to be a good player to make 
them. 

MRS. THORNE 
We'll see. 

CYNTHIA 
Shall I play? 



HEARTS 

JESSICA 
My hand 1 down. 

MRS. THORNE 
You haven't given me much help, have you? 

JESSICA 

I as much as told you, you were risking a lot on 
hearts. 

MRS. THORNE 

Perhaps; but I'd rather lose in hearts than 
never do my utmost to win them. 

NELL 

Oh, yes, they say you win men's hearts quite 
easily. 

MRS. THORNE 

[Throws down her cards, rises'} There, that's 
just enough! I can't stand these slurs another 
moment ! It's the end ! 

CYNTHIA, NELL, JESSICA 
[Startled] Mrs. Thorne! 

MRS. THORNE 

I came to this city a stranger, brought by a 
doctor you all like and respect. You should have 
honored his love for me but instead you hated and 
hurt me. It has grieved him to see the fight I have 
had to make for even decent recognition. 

NELL 
Mrs. Thorne ! 

MRS. THORNE 

He wants to go away, give up his big practice 
[ 202 ] 



HEARTS 

here ; start some place else for my sake but I love 
him so much I would rather die than hinder him. 
The greatest gift I can give him is taking this 
short way out. [She swallows the pills and goes 
to big chair at right. ,] 

JESSICA 
She swallowed them ! 

NELL and CYNTHIA 
Mrs. Thorne ! 

MRS. THORNE 

I've stood it as long as I could! I don't want 
to live any more. 

JESSICA 
But you can't die in my house ! 

MRS. THORNE 

But I want to die in your house. It will pay 
you back for the way you robbed me of my char- 
acter at the Chesters'. They told me ! 

JESSICA 
I swear I never 

NELL 

In Heaven's name, Jessica, don't argue! She'll 
pass out in the midst of it. You'd better call a 
doctor or tlhe police. 

JESSICA 

No! Keep it out of the papers! You haven't 
any right to die in my house ! 
[ 203 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 

[Shakes Mrs. Thome] You're a doctor's wife, 
tell us what to do. 

JESSICA 

[Runs off stage crying] Mary, run for the 
nearest doctor ! 

NEI/L 

[Seizes book from table] Here's a "First Aid," 
what does it say about poison? [She runs her 
-finger down index] Bandages, bruises, sprains, 
hanging, "that's suicide," no, not that ! [Her eye 
catches a word and she pounces upon it] Here it is ! 
Poison! [Disappointed as she throws book aside] 
Oh poison ivy I 

MRS. THORNE 

[Seems to be fainting] Do not agitate your- 
selves. I have contemplated this deed too long to 
have regrets. There is no way of saving me now. 

JESSICA 

[Runs in with a glass of whiskey and water 
which she offers Mrs. Thorne] Whiskey counter- 
acts it. Drink, drink! 

CYNTHIA 
Force it down her! 

NEI/L 
We can't let her die ! 

MRS. THORNE 

What difference does it make to you if I die? 
You wouldn't let me live ! 

[ 204 ] 



HEARTS 

CYNTHIA 

But, Mrs. Thorne, no one knew you loved him 
like that. 

NELL 
You seemed so interested in other men. 

JESSICA 
Oh, why doesn't help come. 

MRS. THORNE 

You think men are attracted to me because I 
want them to be. I don't try to win them, but I 
have tried to win you women and that I could not 
do. It is not poison that is killing me, it is your 
hatred! 

JESSICA 

[Throwing herself on her knees] Oh, Mrs. 
Thorne, I implore you to do something to save 
yourself ! 

NELL 
Why doesn't Mary come with a doctor ! 

MRS. THORNE 

TShere are no more pills left for evidence and 
they cannot be traced in autopsy. It's something 
new my husband has been experimenting on. If 
you can help me back to the card table, you can 
call it heart failure. 

NELL 
It tears me to pieces to hear you talk that way. 

JESSICA 

It's dreadful of you to mind so much what we've 
[ 205 ] 






HEARTS 

said. No one really meant anything by it. No 
one wants you to die. 

CYNTHIA 

I've been a dog, the way I've treated you. But 
I was jealous and and the way you fought 
and wouldn't let yourself be downed! None of us 
knew about your family or your past, we don't 
yet 

MRS. THORNE 

When Dr. Thorne met me in Florida I was rest- 
ing after a long season in stock. I was an actress 
for ten years. Oh, air! [Dramatic ally] It's very 
close. [She gasps. ] 

[Cynthia rushes to open a window.] 

NELL 

You must drink! If you'll take it and forgive 
us and live, we'll make up a thousand times for the 
harm we have done 

MRS. THORNE 

Would you really ? If I thought that you cared 
I'd take it. It might not be too late. 

JESSICA 
Take it, take it 

CYNTHIA 

If I'd known your life depended upon us I'd 
have done a lot of nice things for you. 

MRS. THORNE 
All our lives depend upon one another. 



HEARTS 

JESSICA 

Oh, please, please drink this ! If you'll only live 
we'll be your closest friends forever. 

MRS. THORNE 
You promise that? 

JESSICA, NELL, CYNTHIA 
Yes, yes ! 

MRS. THORNE 

[Drinks'] Then, I'll take some 

JESSICA 
More than tlhat. 

CYNTHIA 
All of it. 

MRS. THORNE 

[Resists as they try to pour it down Tier throat] 
Oh, you'll have me intoxicated. [Laughs] No, 
no, I can't go that far. You see the pills are not 
poison. They're only throat tablets. 

CYNTHIA 

[Angrily] Mrs. Thorne! You have presumed 
too far! 

NELL 
How dare you make fools of us. 

JESSICA 
It's an insult in my own house ! 

MRS. THORNE 

[Rises] Only severe dealing would bring you to 
terms ! I had no idea of setting this scene when I 
[ 207 ] 



HEARTS 

entered the room. Your antagonism met me at the 
door and Mrs. Martingay gave me the cue when 
she called the pills poison. I have not been an 
actress without learning something of the value 
of suggestion and I fed your minds point by point 
until you believed that these simple tablets under 
the fictitious name of cocciamphiberagamus could 
be fatal. 

CYNTHIA 
I've never been so furious in all my life! 

MRS. THORNE 

Remember, it was your own malice tihat set your 
trap. 

JESSICA 

After this, Mrs. Thome, we'll make life harder 
tlhan ever! Perhaps next time you'll take real 

MRS. THORNE 

No, Mrs. Russell. I enjoy my life too much to 
bargain it for you. My husband is exceedingly 
amused when I relate my adventures and will relish 
this one particularly. 

NELL 

We'll never call your husband in again. It won't* 
be so funny when he loses patients ! 

CYNTHIA 
\Sneeringly\ I call your method losing hearts., 

MRS. THORNE 

[Adorably] No, Mrs. Martingay, I am winning 
them. You have proved today that you have 
[ 208 ] 



HEARTS 

hearts ; that you wouldn't want everyone to be as 
unhappy as you thought I was. You see, Mrs. 
Puff, you have shown me for the first time your 
true selves and it has made me more than ever 
anxious to be your friend. Do forgive me, Mrs. 
Russell, for my trick against you and let it cancel 
your tricks against me. Let's start over with 
an equal deal and play fair! All of us have 
better hearts than we show let's play them out! 

[Jessica and Cynthia exchange glances.] 

[Jessica and Nell exchange glances.] 

[Cynthia and Nell exchange glances.] 

[Mrs. Thome waits expectantly.] 

[Jessica sits.] 

[Cynthia sits.] 

[Nell sits.] 

[Mrs. Thorne, realizing that she has conquered 
them, takes the last chair and graciously picks up 
the cards to start a new game. She is dealing them 
as the curtain falls slowly.] 

CURTAIN 



[ 209 ] 



BEYOND 

A ONE ACT PLAY 



First production at the Players Workshop, East 57th 
Street, Chicago. Published by Little, Brown and Co. in a 
volume of "Representative One- Act Plays by American 
Authors," compiled by M. G. Mayorga. 



COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



BEYOND 

SCENE: The curtain rises in darkness. The 
stage lights up slowly. 

The scene suggests limitless space and mist and 
is played behind a curtain of gauze. The -floor 
rises from right to left as if misty clouds had made 
irregular stepping stones to heights off left. The 
wraith of a woman enters, looking misty in blue, 
lavender, and flesh colored chiffon, but one is less 
conscious of body than of the embodiment of spirit. 
She enters timidly, in awe, not sure of a welcome. 
She lias died and is now passing upward to meet 
and to be judged by the All Powerful whom she 
cannot see but whom she supposes is high up off 
left. She speaks in that direction and moves slowly 
from right to left as if drawn by a magnet. 

WRAITH 

Is this the way I should go? You send no 
answer. Yet I am drawn this way, and it leads 
upward. Are You drawing me to Your Throne for 
judgment? I see nothing, my eyes are still blind 
to God, and yet I have died ; that other part of me 
lies white and cold, unwarmed by the burning can- 
dles, the petals of pink roses, and the kisses of the 
one who weeps for me. Does his desire for me halt 
the progress of my soul, does his great love for me 
still keep me thinking of him? And because I 
[ 213 ] 



BEYOND 

think of him do You keep me blind to You? 
That would be strange ! For when I lived, my love 
for him seemed to bring me nearer to You. Does 
it follow then that to know You in life one must 
love and to know You in death one must forget? 
But I do not want to forget him! [Pauses 
anxiously. ] Are You angry? You do not answer. 
All is silent. I am alone, terribly alone. [Takes 
timid step forward left.'] 

I seem to have come a very long way. I seem to 
have the form of myself; yet I left it solidly back 
there. This which I am is not solid as if able at 
any moment to melt into mist but if I become mist 
where does that "I" of "me" go that can think? 
I do not want to lose the "I" of "me" that thinks. 
Must I lose it? [Pauses. ] 

Perhaps You are jealous of Your Power and 
will not take me in until I let You merge my "I" 
in You! But I do not want to obliterate myself! 
I am 77 Yet, if You say that You are You, the 
weaker of us must give in ! That means Oh, You 
are terribly strong and make me afraid! [Re- 
treats a step] They teach us to be afraid of 
You. They quote Your threats from the Book. 
They say You have promised punishments beyond 
the imagination of human minds for limitless 
agony, but I do not believe it ! [Softly.] If You 
are without pity, You are not God! [Pauses.] 
You might have struck me because I am rebellious 
and critical of You, but nothing has happened. 
[Steps forward left.] I am daring to come a little 
nearer to You. If it is Your decree that I walk 



BEYOND 

this way, as millions have walked before me and 
millions will after me, You ought to take care of 
me. 

They tell and believe a lot of things about You, 
but no man really knows. Will You tell me Your 
secret? Or must I wander eternally? If You have 
nothing more than this to offer, it would be better 
to go back to him. He is calling. [Puts hands 
to her ears.] I would rush back if I could but I 
do not seem able, nor can I go forward very fast. 
Why is it? What do You want me to do? 
[Pauses.] Can You not understand my language? 
or do You refuse to hear ? Are You going to for- 
get me? Is this terrible silence to be my punish- 
ment ? Have You turned away from me ? Answer ! 
Answer ! 

Is there no one else about? No one else in 
trouble like mine? No company for me? But 
others 'have died. Where are they ? Has each one 
had to go through this alone? Is this to be the 
experience of every one ? Or have You singled me 
out for the torture of eternal solitude? Have I 
offended You so deeply that You will not even 
listen? Have I trangressed beyond forgivene:;;? 
Is it possible You cannot read my soul and are 
judging life from the surface as the world saw it, 
that You are not omniscient enough to go below the 
surface and know me as I really am? Silence! 
Silence ! 

[Hysterically'] What do You want of me? Does 
it amuse You to see me suffer? Or are You jealous 
of my will? Do You demand abject submission? 
[ 215 ] 



BEYOND 

Must I give in and bend the knee to You? Must I 
humiliate myself and implore tlie mercy You should 
extend unasked if You are as they say You are, 
powerful enough to be everywhere and see every- 
thing always? Even though You may know my 
life like an open page, does it amuse You to have 
me suffer it again in the telling? Is my life his- 
tory a story to You? Does it give You pleasure 
to discipline me? Must I throw myself before 
You in 'despair to give You the chance to appear 
noble and raise me in mercy? Or are You angry 
because I question You ! Answer ! Just one word ! 
I am Your slave ! [Throws herself upon her knees.'] 

I yield, conquered! Beaten! 

It is true, I sinned! The unpardonable for a 
woman The world condemned, made me endure its 
averted gaze. My husband would not give me 
legal freedom ; I could not, would not renounce my 
lover. My crime was infidelity. A certain kind of 
punishment must be listed for that. I plead guilty 
and await punishment. [Pauses.] Still You do 
not answer! Are You not satisfied to see me 
willing to accept Your punishment? What more 
do You want? [Pauses. ~\ 

Would You have me say I am sorry I loved him ? 
Say I am sorry? [Gives way to tremendous emo- 
tionJ] Do not ask it of me ! I cannot say it ! It 
would only be a lie ! I am not sorry ! Oh, punish 
me, but do not expect me to regret! Hear me; 
and understand! 

My father was good, but it often seemed as if 
You were against him! In despair he killed him- 
[ 216 ] 



BEYOND 

self ! I hope You were kind to him when he passed 
this way. What did You do to him? [Pauses, ,] 
Mother had too many children. The last one 
killed her. I hope You rewarded her here for all 
her hardship there. I was the eldest, had to sup- 
port them came home so tired spent the night 
helping them make flowers they sold. Their little 
thin faces, their patient little hands, the tears that 
came and the laughter that never did how can, 
why do You rob children of their childhood! I 
could not bear it! I had a chance to marry for 
money. I sacrificed myself for them! Do You 
not praise us for sacrificing ourselves for others? 
The world called the marriage legal; it was hal- 
lowed by Your church ! But if You think it made 
me honorable and good, I know in my soul You 
are wrong! My greatest sin was then when I was 
not true to myself ! [Pauses. ,] I hated him! He 
was old, hard, cthose me because I was poor and in 
his power. Every penny be gave had to be earned 
in service. I conscientiously kept the bargain, 
even though my heart was black with ever-increas- 
ing hatred toward the world and him and You! 
Yes, my hatred for him made me doubt You all 
Your handiwork ! And I counted up against You 
all I had to endure, and then my lover came. 

I fled to the arms of him who sits now by the 
white, cold shell of me, weeping. He weeps be- 
cause he thinks he has lost me ; perhaps, because he 
feels I am in anguish here but he need not weep 
for loss of love ; my love will never cease ! My love 
for him is part of You and You are eternal! 
\Moves left almost imperceptibly."] 
[ 217 ] 



BEYOND 

Through him I lost the blackness of my heart 
and saw the wonder of Your purple mountains, 
blue-green seas, and even the beauty of Your 
mighty storms, sweeping rains, and icy frosts 
and I loved because of him all the creatures You 
have made and all Your trees and all Your flowers 
and even all the weeds. Although the world 
pointed a finger at me, I bore with dignity and 
without complaint, knowing that my heart was 
whiter because of love. 

My Love and I, walking hand in hand, heard the 
birds in Your forest and through them the voice of 
You. We stood on hill crests, awed by the beauty 
of Your landscapes, and, moved by the marvelous 
colors, worshiped the artist in You. We saw the 
mists of evening hover over mountain peaks and 
fancied they were veils hiding You. But we 
knew You were there! And our love rose as one 
love to You! 

Is a love that brings consciousness of You a sin ? 
Was my love for him a sin ? Was not rather that 
other relationship, the real sin against You be- 
cause through it I lost You? Will You judge as 
the world judges? Is Your silence and this soli- 
tude a place for my soul to battle for itself? 

Still You do not answer and see how far I've 
come! I did not know I was moving nearer to 
You but I have! How much farther must I 
come? Then will You answer me? 

[With triumphant conviction and faitK] You 
cannot deny me ! In my idea of You there is Jus- 
tice! To plead for mercy and to implore forgive- 
[ 218 ] 



BEYOND 

ness is to confess a God that can be swayed! My 
God needs no finite aid in judgment! If You are 
at all, You are supreme! [By this time she has 
reached the height at left.] Punish ! If you think 
You must but I come to You with love and ex- 
pectant of Justice! \_As she goes off left a glow 
of light illumines her face.] 

CURTAIN 



[ 219 ] 



FOURTEEN 

A ONE ACT PLAY 



CHARACTERS 

MBS. HORACE PRINGLE, a woman of fashion 
ELAINE, her debutante daughter 
DUNHAM, the butler or maid 

First production in Arthur Maitland's Theatre, San 
Francisco. Played at Hollywood Community Theatre, 
California; College Club Players, Cleveland, Ohio; Brain- 
tree, Mass.; Ridgewood, N. J. ; Cincinnati, Ohio; Newton 
Highlands, Mass.; Winnetka, Illinois; Culver-Stockton 
Dramatic Club, Theatre Arts Club, Detroit; Portland, 
Maine; Omaha, Neb.; Wheeling, W. Va.; St. Louis, Mo., 
etc. "Fourteen" was published in the February issue of 
the Drama Magazine, 1920. 

COPYRIGHTED, 1919, BY ALICE GERSTENBERG 



FOURTEEN 

SCENE: The dining-room of a New York resi- 
dence. A long table running -from left to right, 
with a chair at each end and six chairs on each side, 
is set elaborately for fourteen. Dunham, the butler, 
is hovering over the table to give it a few finishing 
touches as Mrs. Pringle comes in. She is a woman 
of fashion, handsome, and wears a very lovely even- 
ing gown. She is rather excitable in temperament 
but withal capable and executive, vivacious and 
humorously charming. She enters m haste carry- 
ing a corsage bouquet of flowers and the empty box 
and paper from which she has unwrapped them. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Dunham, I've just had word from Mr. Harper 
that he was called away to tlhe bedside of a friend 
who is very ill. He sent me these flowers it's a 
good thing he did. I don't approve of young men 
refusing dinner invitations the very last minute. 

DUNHAM 

[Relieving her~\ I'll take the box and paper, Mrs. 
Pringle. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Looking at the table anxiously and then at her 
watch~\ It's too bad after you've set it all so beau- 
tifully and it's getting so late some one might 
be coming any moment. How's cook? 



FOURTEEN 

DUNHAM 
Cook's in a temper, as always, madam. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

I'm glad to hear it. She's like an actress the 
better the temper, the better the performance. As 
long as she serves us a good dinner I don't care 
how much she swears. The rest of you can just 
keep out of her way. Where's Gustave? 

DUNHAM 

I'm sorry to have to say it, madam, but there's 
such an awful blizzard out he's sweeping off the 
sidewalk. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Oh ! Dear me, yes ! I should have ordered an 
awning ! But who expected a storm like this. [She 
glances out of the window.] 

[Elaine, a young debutante in evening gown, 
comes running in with a bunch of place-cards.] 

ELAINE 

Here are the place-cards, mother, and the dia- 
gram. Shall I put them around ? 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Yes, dear. Elaine, I'm going up to look after 
your father. He's so helpless about his ties. [She 
starts to leave the room.] Remove one plate, 
Dunham. 

DUNHAM 

Remove one plate, madam ? Oh ! Madam ! It is 
a certainty ! You wouldn't sit down with thirteen. 



FOURTEEN 



MRS. 

[Drawing back^ Thirteen! Why, you're right 
thirteen! We can never sit down with thirteen. 
That's all due to Mr. Harper's negligence. Sick 
friend, nothing! He's just one of those careless 
men who never answer their invitations in time. 
His flowers, indeed, to make me forgive him now 
look at the trouble he's put me to iihirteen! I 
wonder whom I could get to come in the last minute. 
Quick Elaine help me think. [She rushes to the 
telephone and looks madly through her list of ac- 
quaintances.] 

ELAINE 

There's always Uncle George. 

MRS. PRINGLE 
He never opens his head ! 

DUNHAM 

Mr. Morgan, madam, he always tells a joke or 
two. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Why, yes, Dunham tihat's clever of you ! Hello 
Central Lakeview 5971 at once, please Elaine 
dear, your hair's much too tight pull it out pull 
it out come here. [In telephone.'] Mr. Morgan's? 
Well, this is Mrs. Pringle speaking from across 
the street. Yes. When Mr. Morgan comes in, 
please tell him to call me up right away. I want 
him to dine with us in about ten minutes you 
expect him? [She pulls Elaine's hair out to make 
it look fluffier. Elaine makes faces of pain, but her 
mother pays no attention.'] Have him call me right 
[ 225 ] 



FOURTEEN 

away. [She hangs up the receiver.] Now if he 
shouldn't get it then what'll I do? 

ELAINE 

Well, mother, / don't have to be at the table. 
It's your party, anyway. Everybody's married 
and older than I am. 

MBS. PRINGLE 

[Pointing to the table diagram m Elaine's hand] 
Didn't I place you next to Oliver Farnsworth? 
Millions ! He's worth millions ! 

ELAINE 
Well, he won't be giving me any. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Can't he marry you? Aren't you going to try 
to make a good match for yourself? I fling every 
eligible man I can at your head. Can't you finish 
the rest yourself ? 

ELAINE 

It's no use, mother, your trying to marry me 
off to anyone as important as he is. He frightens 
me to death. I lose my tongue. I'm as afraid of 
him as I'd be afraid of the Prince of Wales ! 

MRS. PRINGLE 

The Prince of Wales ! Oh ! What wouldn't I 
give to have the Prince of Wales in my house! 
New York has lost its heart to him. I was just 
telling Mr. Farnsworth yesterday that I'd give 
anything to have the Prince here. I would estab- 
lish my social position for life! And I've such a 
[ 226 ] 



FOURTEEN 

reputation for being a wonderful hostess. [The 
telephone rings. ,] Dear me! the phone Hello 
Mrs. Sedgwick Yes this is Mrs. Pringle 
What? No Oh! Caught in a snow-drift can't 
get another car? [She puts her hand over the tele- 
phone and speaks delightedly to Elaine. ~\ Good ! 
The widow can't come that leaves us twelve re- 
move two plates, Dunham. [Dunham removes 
two plates and Elaine changes the table-cards.'] 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[At the telephone'} Oh! That's a shame! I'm 
heartbroken. Oh ! My dear, how can we get along 
without you ! But have you really tried? Oh, I'm 
reduced to tears. Good-bye, dear. [She hangs up 
the receiver, and takes it down again.~\ Well, I'm 
glad she dropped out Central give me Lake- 
view 5971 Dunham, with two less, you can save 
two cocktails and at least four glasses of cham- 
pagne. [Into the telephone] Has Mr. Morgan 
come in yet? Well, don't give him the message I 
telephoned before about crossing the street to Mrs. 
Pringle's for dinner. It's too late you under- 
stand? [She hangs up the receiver. ~\ Well, any- 
way, I've invited Clem, returned my indebtedness 
and saved my champagne besides 

DUNHAM 

The liquor is getting low, madam what with 
prohibition and entertaining so much 

ELAINE 

[In dismay~\ But, mother, if you only have 
[ 227 ] 



FOURTEEN 

twelve people, Father can't sit at the head of the 
table. 

MILS. PRINGLE 

But he has to sit at the head. It looks too un- 
dignified when the man of the house is pushed to 
the side 

ELAINE 

There's no other way. There must be a woman 
at each end 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Distrait'} How absurd! I always forget. Of 
course twelve is an impossible number [She goes 
around tlie table looking at the place-cards.'] I 
don't want to put any of these women at the head 
there's Mrs. Darby such a cat I wouldn't 
give her the honor and Mrs. [The telephone 
ringsJ] Answer it, Dunham. 

DUNHAM 

Hello Mrs. Pringle's residence a message? 
Yes, sir What, sir? Mr. Darby the doctor 
says your baby has the chicken-pox 

MRS. PRINGLE 
Ohicken-pox ! Elaine ! 

ELAINE 
Mother! 

DUNHAM 

Yes, sir. [He hangs up the receiver.'] Mr. 
Darby sends his apologies but owing to the trans- 
mutability of the disease, Mr. and Mrs. Darby feel 
[ 228 ] 



FOURTEEN 

obliged to regret and also their house-guests, Mr. 
and Mrs. Fleetwood 

MRS. PRINGLE 
That's four out. 

ELAINE 

Then you're only eight ! Quick, the plates; Dun- 
ham 

[She begins to remove chairs and gathers up 
silver and plates feverishly. Mrs. Pringle getting 
more and more distrait, helps. With so much un- 
accustomed help, Dunham gets confused and goes 
through- many unnecessary motions; removes 
plates, breaks them, drops silver, aimlessly trying 
to hurry, his -fingers all thumbs^] 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Don't we know someone to invite the last min- 
ute 

ELAINE 
The Hatwoods 

MRS. PRINGLE 

They don't serve drinks when they entertain I 
can't afford to invite them to drink mine 

ELAINE 
The Greens 

MRS. PRINGLE 
She's not interesting enough 

ELAINE 
Mr. Conley 

[ 229 ] 



FOURTEEN 

MRS. PBJNGLE 

He never makes a dinner call, even after all the 
times I have invited him. 

ELAINE 
Hester Longley 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Not at the same table with you and Oliver 
Farnsworth. She's far too pretty, too clever 

ELAINE 

Where's our book? [She runs her finger down 
the address book.'] The Tuppers? 

MRS. PRINGLE 

The Tuppers! Good Heavens, Elaine, six in 
the family. 

ELAINE 

That would get us back to fourteen ; then father 
could sit at the head of the table. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Well, try them. I'll rush and tell your father 
to hold up the drawing room [Exit left.~] 

ELAINE 

[_At the telephone'] Ridgeway 9325 This is 
Elaine Pringle What Tupper am I speaking to? 
Oh, Ella, hello ! I hope you haven't finished your 
dinner We had a party arranged here and the 
last moment everybody's been dropping out the 
blizzard Can't you flock your family around the 
corner and eat with us ? Mother and I thought we 
knew you well enough to call you like this at the 
[ 230 ] 



FOURTEEN 

seventh hour. You would? Oh! fine! [To 
Dunham.'] Six more plates, Dunham. [In the 
telephone.'] What? Oh well but [She hesi- 
tates, stutters, looks distressed, muffles the tele- 
phone.'] Dunham, get Mother quick. [In the tele- 
phone as Dunham hurries out of the room.] Yes 
yes of course [not enthusiastically^, love it 
why certainly yes, my dear all right. [She 
hangs up the receiver and puts her hand to her 
head with an ejaculation of dismay. ~] Great 
Caesar, now what have I done ! 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Rushes in followed by Dunham] What's the 
matter Elaine what is 

ELAINE 

Now I've done it! I've just done it but I 
couldn't get out of it I just couldn't you 
weren't here I always lose my head and bungle 
things 

MRS. PRINGLE 

But what don't keep us waiting like this 
what is it ? 

ELAINE 

I invited Ella and the family and she accepted 
and then she said they had two house-guests and 
would it be all right and of course I said it would 
and now we're sixteen! 

DUNHAM 

[In dismay\ Sixteen ! But, madam, the table's 
not that long ! 

[ 231 ] 



FOURTEEN 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Elaine! That's just like you no tact no 
worldly wisdom if I'd been at the 'phone I'd have 
politely said that my table 

ELAINE 

But you weren't at the phone you ought to at- 
tend to such messages yourself you know I al- 
ways lose my -head 

DUNHAM 

But the dishes, madam and we only have four- 
teen squabs 

ELAINE 
I won't eat any 

MRS. PRINGLE 

But I must not be disgraced we'll have to make 
the best of it and insert another board [Dun- 
Tiam goes out. Mrs. Pringle and Elaine hurriedly 
remove part of the cloth. ,] 

ELAINE 
But, mother, I needn't sit at the table. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Pointing to a chair authoritatively^ You're 
going to sit right there next to Oliver Farnsworth! 
Now I don't wish to hear another word about it. 

ELAINE 

But can*t we squeeze them in without all the 
work of adding another board? If I move the 
plates and chairs closer 



FOURTEEN 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Have you forgotten that Mr. Tupper weighs 
something like two hundred and fifty pounds? 
And Mrs. Conley has no waist line? It can't be 
done ! 

DUNHAM 

[Entering with table board] Cook is in a rage, 
madam she says she has only prepared for four- 
teen. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

I can't help it she'll have to prepare for six- 
teen. Tell her to open cans of soup and vegetables 
and 

DUNHAM 

But the ice-cream forms and the gelatine 
molds 

ELAINE 
I'll pretend I don't like them. 

MRS. PRINGLE 
And I'll pretend I'm on a diet 

ELAINE 
But I really wouldn't have to be at the table. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Be still! [She starts as the telephone rmgs.] 
The telephone! [Her hand to her head.] Now 
what? Don't answer it! It's driving me mad 
[She goes herself as Elaine and Dunham do not 
go.] Hello yes, This is Mrs. Pringle Oh ! yes 
Jessica! what! the blizzard your cold too 
dangerous ! [She waves to Dunham NOT to put 
[ 233 ] 



FOURTEEN 

the board in the table. Dunham, Elaine and Mrs. 
Pringle are delighted and relieved but Mrs. Pr ingle 
pretends otherwise over the telephone.] Oh! Jes- 
sica you poor dear yes, your husband's right, it 
would be foolhardy put on a mustard plaster 
hot toddy go to bed so sorry ! [She hangs up 
the receiver.'] There that's wonderful now we 
are just fourteen 

ELAINE 

But the cards are all wrong. Only six are 
coming who were invited originally. You'll have to 
make another diagram. How do you want them 
seated ? 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Give it to me. \_She remains at the telephone 
table where there is a pad and a pencil and makes 
a new diagram.'] 

ELAINE 

Here are some fresh cards. [She tears up the 
old cards, then goes back to help Dunham, who is 
having a maddening time with the tabled] 

MRS. PRINGLE 

What a mess ! I spent hours over that diagram ! 
So much depends upon having guests seated har- 
moniously! There's the front door-bell, Dunham 
I told Annie to answer it for you but go, peek 
into the drawing-room and tell me who it is [As 
Dunham goes out, the telephone rings. Mrs. 
Pringle eyes it suspiciously .] You murderous in- 
strument! What have you to say? Now what? 
Hello! Who! Mr. Farnsworth! Mr c Oliver 
[ 234 ] 



FOURTEEN 

Farnsworth? No you're his secretary? He's 
what? Instructed you to make his excuses! He 
had to leave for Boston at once on very important 
business Oh! [She hangs up the receiver with- 
out completing the conversation and hits the tele- 
phone in a temper, then rises and paces back and 
forth in a rageJ] How dare he! How dare he! 
The last moment like this ! No regard for a host- 
ess's feelings ! No regard for the efforts she goes 
to to provide an evening's enjoyment! And such a 
good dinner I planned and he promised he would 
come business ! I don't believe it ! He didn't 
want to exert himself was afraid of freezing in 
the blizzard as if he didn't have half a dozen 
limousines to carry him to the door selfishness 
downright rudeness and worth millions just a 
match for you, Elaine and I was bound you 
should meet him and sit next to him at table [she 
tears up his card], and now I don't know when I 
can give you a chance like that again! I'm per- 
fectly furious I'll never speak to him again! I 
won't be treated that way 

ELAINE 

[Timidly'] Perhaps he really did have business 
and was called away 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Not hearing her] And I one of the most im- 
portant hostesses in this city people clamoring 
to receive my invitations all my affairs are a suc- 
cess. I insist that they shall be I can't bear a 
failure I won't have a failure he was my most 
[ 235 ] 



FOURTEEN 

important guest he's such a man's man so im- 
portant financially every other man considers it 
an honor to meet him and now not coming! I'm 
furious ! Furious ! it's all this damnable blizzard ! 

ELAINE 

Now I will have to stay away from the table. 
His not coming makes us thirteen again. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[In a temper] Go to bed go up to the nursery ! 
I'll send you milk and crackers ! 

ELAINE 

But, mother, it's not my fault that he had busi- 
ness out of town. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Yes, it is! If you'd perk up a bit and not be 
so timid and make something of yourself, he would 
hear about your attractions from other men and 
be curious to meet you himself Oh! What a 
family I have! No one to help me with my am- 
bitions ! Go to bed ! I certainly won't sit down 
to thirteen go to bed get out of my sight 

[Dunham enters from left.'] 

DUNHAM 
It was Mr. Morgan, madam 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Mr. Morgan ! But I telephoned his maid to tell 
him not to come. 

DUNHAM 

He couldn't have received the second message, 
[ 236 ] 



FOURTEEN 

madam, for I heard him explaining to Mr. Pringle 
how happy he was to receive your telephone invi- 
tation. 

ELAINE 

That makes you thirteen again unless you 
don't want me to go to bed 

MRS. PRINGLE 

Of course I don't want you to go to bed. We're 
back to where we started fourteen, Dunham. 

DUNHAM 

I'll get the cocktails ready, madam. Annie told 
me there were several motors making their way 
through the snow. It's late now and cook's swear- 
ing about the dinner getting too dry [The tele- 
phone rings. Elaine jumps .] 

ELAINE 
I won't answer it. 

MRS. PRINGLE 

I should say not hello what is it? [Sharply.] 
Yes yes? Mrs. Tupper! Yes! Mrs. Tupper! 
But now you must come we're prepared for you 
yes for eight of you Your daughter told my 
daughter about your house-guests and we are de- 
lighted to have them but now we're set for you 
but every plate is set but your daughter was 
quite right it wasn't an imposition at all but 
you must come now of course my daughter had 
authority to invite the guests Oh eight isn't at 
all a big number there is room the table is all 
set but I beg of you but my dear, you are not 
[ 237 ] 



FOURTEEN 

imposing Oh ! but how foolish of you to take that 
stand! Why my dear, my dear [She hangs up 
the receiver.] Now, what do you think of that? 
Mrs. Tupper is perfectly furious at Ella for tell- 
ing you about the house-guests, and says Ella has 
no tact; that nothing would induce her to bring 
eight when we invited six so she's leaving Ella 
and Henry at home only six are coming. Re- 
move two plates, Dunham we're twelve after all 

ELAINE 

But if you leave it twelve, father can't sit at the 
end 

MBS. PRINGLE 

[Exhausted, harassed, angry, tempestuous} I 
shall go mad ! I'll never entertain again never 
never people ought to know whether they're 
coming or not but they accept and regret and re- 
gret and accept they drive me wild. [Dunham 
goes out.~\ This is my last dinner party my very 
last a fiasco an utter fiasco! A haphazard 
crowd hurried together when I had planned 
everything so beautifully now how shall I seat 
them how shall I seat them? If I put Mr. 
Tupper here and Mrs. Conley there then Mrs. 
Tupper has to sit next to her husband and if I 
want Mr. Morgan there Oh! It's impossible I 
might as well put their names in a hat and draw 
them out at random never again! I'm through! 
Through with society with parties with friends 
I wipe my slate clean they'll miss my enter- 
tainments they'll wish they had been more con- 
siderate after this, I'm going to live for myself! 

[ 238 ] 



FOURTEEN 

I'm going to be selfish and hard and unsociable 
and drink my liquor myself instead of offering it 
gratis to the whole town ! I'm through Through 
with men like Oliver Farnsworth! I don't care 
how rich they are! How influential they are 
how important they are ! They're nothing without 
courtesy and consideration business off on train 
nonsense didn't want to come didn't want to 
meet a sweet, pretty girl didn't want to marry 
her well, he's not good enough for you ! don't 
you marry him ! Don't you dare to marry him ! I 
won't let you marry him ! Do you hear ? If you 
tried to elope or anything like that, I'd break it 
off yes, I would Oliver Farnsworth will never 
get recognition again from me ! He is beneath my 
notice ! I hate Oliver Farnsworth ! 

[Dunham enters with a note on a silver plate.] 

DUNHAM 
A note from Mr. Farnsworth, madam 

MRS. PRINGLE 

A note from Mr. Farnsworth! [She takes and 
opens it.'] 

DUNHAM 

Yes, madam, there are two strange gentlemen in 
the lower hall. They presented this letter. He 
said he was the secretary. All the other guests 
are upstairs in the drawing-room, madam, I counted 
twelve in all, including you and Mr. Pringle and 
Miss Elaine. But the two gentlemen downstairs, 
madam, are waiting for your answer the one 
gentleman's face looked very familiar, madam, but 
[ 239 ] 



FOURTEEN 

I can't just plaice him although I'm sure I've seen 
his face somewhere 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[She has been reading the note and is almost 
fainting with surprise and joy~\ Seen 'his face 
somewhere Oh, my goodness! Elaine It's the 
Prince of Wales ! 

DUNHAM 

The secretary said you cut off the telephone or 
central disconnected you. He was about to tell you 
that Mr. Farnsworth knew that the blizzard had 
prevented His Highness from keeping an engage- 
ment way up town 

MRS. PRINGLE 

The Prince of Wales sitting in my lower hall 
waiting for me to ask him to dinner 

ELAINE 
Then we'll be thirteen again 

DUNHAM 

There's the secretary, Miss, he is his body- 
guard 

MRS. PRINGLE 

[Rising to the occasion] Certainly, the secre- 
tary, Elaine. We shall be fourteen at dinner 
Serve the cocktails, Dunham the guests may sit 
anywhere they choose. I shall bring the Prince in 
with me! 

ELAINE 

[Following] But mother, wasn't it nice of 
Oliver Farnsworth to send a Prince in his place? 
[ 240 ] 



FOURTEEN 

MBS. PBINGLE 

Didn't I always say that Oliver Farnsworth was 
tihe most considerate of men ? 

ELAINE 
I think I shall like Mr. Farnsworth. 

MBS. PBINGLE 

Silly child ! It is too late now to like Mr. Farns- 
worth. It's time now to like the Pri<nce. [Starting 
out\ I always manage somehow to be the most suc- 
cessful of hostesses ! Thank God for the blizzard ! 

CURTAIN 



THE ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 



A SATIRE ON FUTURIST AND CUBIST PAINTING 



This sketch was produced for the first time at the studio 
of Miss Grace HicKox, Chicago, and it was played by 
Alice Gerstenberg and William Zeigler Nourse. 

The following explanation may be printed on a program 
or some one may announce it on the stage before the 
entrance of the characters: 

"Miss Gerstenberg has written this frenzied bit of 
Futuristic and Cubistic drama as an experiment to show 
that if the painters of the day paint pictures wherein color 
and its emotional reaction upon the spectators is the main 
reason for painting, the same motive may be applied to 
drama. The fragment of drama which follows leaves guess- 
work to the audience as to the relation of the characters to 
each other, as to the plot, as to the time and place of its 
occurrence; it is nothing but words as an artist flings 
color upon the canvas so have words been flung upon the 
stage that the audience may have the emotional joy of 
discovering, each for himself, what it is all about." 

COPYRIGHTED, 1919, BY ALICE GERSTENBEHG 



THE ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

Two characters, He and She, are dressed 
absurdly in the most vivid colors suggestive of the 
riot of cubist pictures. Their faces are painted 
in cubes and squares, etc., in colors, crimson, 
purple, green, etc. 

The scene is before the curtain of a stage. If it 
parts in the centre the characters make a whirl- 
wind entrance that way and use the curtain as a 
background to silhouette them. 

The characters whirl in. 

HE 

[Flirtatious^ Well? 

SHE 
[Flirtatiously'] Well? 

HE 

Who? 

SHE 
Guess. 

HE 

Impossible ! 

SHE 
Try. 

[ 245 ] 



ILLUMINATI 


IN DRAMA LIBRE 




HE 


Then? 






SHE 


Answer ! 






HE 


What? 






SHE 


Truth. 






HE 


Again ? 






SHE 


Stop! 






HE 


Here? 






SHE 


No. 






HE 


There? 






SHE 


No! 






HE 


Answer! 






SHE 


No! 





HE 

[In despair} Whereupon 
[ 246 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
[In tears"} Never 

HE 

Indeed? 

SHE 
Gone 

HE 

Valued 

SHE 
Much 

HE 

HOW- 
SHE 

Very 

HE 

Terrible! 

SHE 
Nevertheless 

HE 

[_Angrily~] Impudence' 

SHE 
[Resentfully"] Go! 

HE 

Yes 

SHE 
[Pleading] Come 

[ 247 1 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

HE 

Why 

SHE 
Why not? 

HE 

But if 

SHE 
It might 

HE 

Could it 

SHE 
Do you ? 

HE 

For life 

SHE 
Forever 

HE 

Although I 

SHE 
Whereas you 

HE 

Because she 

SHE 
You care 

HE 

Whether you 

[ 248 1 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
Or I 

HE 

Either one 

SHE 
\In horror'] Moreover 

HE 

[In doubt'] Was it so? 

SHE 
You doubt? 

HE 

Proof? 

SHE 
There it is [Points out front. ~\ 

HE 

Where is it? 

SHE 
Are words nothing? 

HE 

Everything ! 

SHE 
[Dramatically'] Enough ! 

HE 

Quite but 

SHE 
But what? 

[ 249 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

HE 

Where is it? 

SHE 
Look! 

HE 

[In agony] I cannot 

SHE 
You will not 

HE 

Curses 

SHE 
How dare you? 

HE 

I denounce 

SHE 
Leave me ! 

HE 

Not before 

SHE 
At once! 

HE 

Answer me ! 

SHE 
I won't! 

HE 

You will! 

[ 250 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
[Inspir 'ationally\ Sunrise 

HE 

You've said it 

SHE 
Said what? 

HE 

The truth 

SHE 
[Great and loud emotion} Words, words, words ! 

HE 

I'll not let 

SHE 
[Terrific grief] Electric bulbs 

HE 

[Sternly] That ends it! 

SHE 
Quite mad! 

HE 

Fool. 

SHE 
Coward ! 

HE 

Come 

SHE 

No 

[ 251 ] 



ILLUMINATI 


IN DRAMA LIBRE 


Don't resist 


HE 


The law! 


SHE 


A star 


HE 


You? 


SHE 


I! 


HE 


I didn't know 


SHE 


Of course not 


HE 


I don't believe it! 


SHE 


Imprisoned ! 


HE 


You wouldn't 


SHE 


[Flings her across 


HE 

stage~] Inevitable! 


I implore you. 


SHE 


Without doubt 


HE 



[ 25% ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
Forgive 

HE 

Too late 

SHE 
Love ? 

HE 

Love? 

SHE 
Love, love, love ! 

HE 

[Rapturously'] Love! 

SHE 
[Cautiously~\ The ring 

HE 

They're coming 

SHE 
Hide me 

HE 

You must pay 

SHE 
The letter? 

HE 

Which one? 

SHE 
His to you 

[ 253 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

HE 

Ah that! 

SHE 
Out with it 

HE 

You read it ? 

SHE 
Never ! 

HE 
Give it to me 

SHE 

No-- 
HE 
Command ! 

SHE 
Now your answer 

HE 

Revenge ! 

SHE 
You dare 

HE 

My promise 

SHE 
[Passionately] On your knees 

HE 

Vampire 

[ 254 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
You beg 

HE 

NO- 
SHE 

Yes 

c 

HE 

No! 

SHE 

Yes! 

HE 

[Struggling with her] No ! 

SHE 
[Struggling with him] Yes ! 

HE 
No! 

SHE 

Yes! 

HE 

No! 

SHE 

[Looking about wildly for something to over- 
power him] Crimson, blue 

HE 

[Feeling his ears hurt by the mention of the 
colors] Oh! 

[ 255 ] 



ILLUMINATI IN DRAMA LIBRE 

SHE 
[Pouncing upon other colors] Violet! Purple! 

HE 

[Getting weaker and weaker] Hush! 

SHE 
[Raging] Orange, yellow! 

HE 

[Finding it unbearable] Stop ! Stop ! 

SHE 
\Climax yell\ MAGENTA! 

HE 

{Overcome} Oh, my head! 

[They both disappear wildly behind the 
curtains.] 



256 



VICTORIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY